Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Random Thoughts in the Snow

Days like today make me wish I boarded my horses at an indoor arena. No worries about doing chores, shoveling, or making the footing safe. I could actually ride instead of only thinking about riding. The only good thing about the fact that it is snowing like crazy right now is that I had a snow day. There are three reasons to teach: July, August, and snow days! LOL!

Anyway, there is not much going on around here. Just lots of snow and cold weather. Just a week ago it was in the low 60s and now it is a blizzard. The mares are doing well. They are all puffy and woolly and ready for the winter. I will never be ready, so oh well. At least the winter waited until now.....there will only be three months of unbearable weather instead of four! LOL! I was using my hose until just two days ago. That is pretty fabulous in its own way.

I am not even close to being ready for Christmas! LOL! I have about 1/3 of my shopping done, but I am pretty sure I know what everyone will be getting. I have sent my Christmas cards and have decorated the house. My young son is so very excited about the holidays and the snow that it is hard to get that stressed out about it all. He keeps me grounded me when I need it most. :D

I have two more banquets coming up at the beginning of the year: the Maine Dressage Society banquet will be at the end of January and the SPHO-NJ banquet is later in February. I will attend both of them! I love having something to look forward this winter.

I need to reevaluate my goals and decide exactly what I want to do with Dreamy next year. I am pretty sure I will do a similar show schedule to this past year, with mainly rated dressage shows, a few hunter shows, and a few events. But like anything, it depends on her. We will wrap up 2010 with the World Equestrian Games breed demonstrations at the Kentucky Horse Park. Dreamy and I will be headed down with a friend from NJ, and while Dreamy was chosen as an "alternate", the organizer from USTA wants to use the two alternates as well as the six original horses. So that is pretty neat! :) I do want to take more lessons than I did this year. It was nearly impossible to do anything at the end of the summer and fall. The biggest reason for this was lack of a towing vehicle, but now that I have my OWN truck, that will no longer be an issue! Yay! Reva will begin her under saddle training in earnest and I plan to do a clinic or two, perhaps bring her to a show but not actually show. Again, depends on dates and what the money situation looks like.

I am excited to be the secretary for the August SMDA show next year. I did not show for points at SMDA this year, as I was too focused on trying rated shows. It is nice to give back to the organization. I do plan to show Reva at SMDA in 2011.

Not much else to report. I wish I had photos to post (sorry A!) but my camera may have finally died. I need a new camera and wanted to get to Christmas without having to buy one (read: Best Buy gift card from my father.....) but that may not happen. :(

Well, almost time to go back out in the snow to take care of the mares. Does not look to be stopping anytime soon, which means I might not be able to shovel everything out tonight. :( Ah, the joys of living in Maine........ :P

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Spa Day

So today it finally stopped raining! LOL! The mud is out of control and I have decided that there is really no good use for mud at all. The mares were pretty dirty after a few days of rain and mud, but Sparky was really the worst. My son went with his grampa (my dad) to camp to stack wood this morning for a few hours, so I decided to clean up the three dirty mares after I cleaned out the barn.

Sparky is pretty serious about coating her body in mud. This is her neck.

She gets the best winter coat of any horse I have ever seen. Granted she now has Cushing's, but she has been getting a coat like this since the first winter I owned her (January 1993). It has nothing to do with Cushing's and everything to do with the fact she is part woolly mammoth! LOL! I am not sure the pics adequately show the amount of hair this horse grows. She has never needed a blanket. And it does seem weird to blanket everyone else and the oldest horse is naked!

All clean!
Reva was not nearly as muddy, but her mane gets pretty out of control. It is so long and pretty, when it is brushed out. I know I will cry when I pull it......someday she will have to have a short pulled mane to make her dressage debut in 2011! But for now, and for next year, she can have her pretty long mane.

She was rather bored with the whole picture taking thing. I am so bad at taking horse pics, as they all look like the horse has a HUGE head and tiny body. :P

I spent a lot of time with the first two mares, planning to ride Dreamy. I must have spent too much time, since right in the middle of grooming Dreamy to ride, the boys came back. :( Oh well. We pretty much take the month of November off anyway, between the fact that I can no longer ride during the week (my husband gets home at 7PM and it is dark at 4:30.......there is no one to watch my son, not to mention that I am often not home from work until 3:30) and my husband is gone all weekend to hunt, as in overnight from Friday to Sunday. Granted, I can ride on the weekends when my son naps, but the rain has been out of control lately. And to be honest, I need time off, seeing as I ride 5 days a week as soon as the footing allows it in the late winter and show heavily from April to October.

Here is the Dream Girl all cleaned up. Another week off.....sigh. It is all good though. We will do as many short, easy rides as we can all winter and start back up in late winter. :)

Too bad I am not rich enough to have an indoor........or even a RING for that matter!!!!

Back to work tomorrow. It was a good break, but I wish it had not rained four of the five days!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Photo Challenge - Day Seven

This morning was gray and drizzly. Not an ideal vacation day, but hey, whatever. Staying home in the rain beats going to school any day! :) Of course, it will add to the awful mud we already have. :( I fed and turned out early and then went back inside until 10AM. Then the little guy and I went out to clean out the barn.

Here is Dreamy with her rainsheet. Hi MOM!

Good morning chickens! (And yes, we have a guinea hen, the ugliest thing ever. But Clarence loves her.)

Now, wait a second......didn't I put Reva's rainsheet on? I always use nylon sheets under blankets to help keep the blanket clean underneath. Then all I have to do is wash the nylon sheet every week. I looked all around, thinking that maybe I forgot to add the rain sheet. It was not in the barn, nor was it in her muddy paddock. ??????? Clarence said, "Well, I bet she took it off Mama!" Yeah, right. But we decided to take a walk out back into her field just in case.

HOLY CRAP! She took her rainsheet off!!!!!!!! How in the heck did she manage that? It is a Weatherbeeta, and I know I buckled the fronts, did up the belly surcingles, and did the crisscrossed leg straps. I know because when I picked up the sheet off the ground, they were ALL STILL CONNECTED. Good lord filly! How did she manage that without getting tangled up? :O
Here is Clarence playing and being very good while Mama does stalls. :)

We are staying home for Thanksgiving., which is great. As soon as my son was out of the portable infant stage, I told everyone that we would stay home for holidays. All are welcome to come here, but I was just not going to start with the driving all over creation thing. It is nice to be home. But of course, it also means I get to cook everything. I am just not motivated looking at this pile of stuff! LOL!

Clarence took out his Build-A-Bear turkey for Thanksgiving! LOL!

Ah, the joys of staying home. Clarence loves to build his trains in the living room. This morning he made some sort of bridge thing between his table chairs. Too cute!

I needed a final photo, so I took a pic of the KHP map that was sent today by the USTA. LOL! So far, I have saved almost half of what I think I will need to get the Dream Girl and myself to Kentucky next year for the Standardbred demos at WEG in Oct. 2010! It is exciting and very fun to be working with the excellent TEAM of Standardbred owners! Yay!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Photo Challange - Day Six

Thank god I am on vacation until Monday! I need some time off. :)

Here is my one word photo challenge post.......feeling lazy! Enjoy!






Bum (that was Clarence's choice)




Monday, November 23, 2009

Feed, Supplements, and Treating COPD and Cushings.....aka Photo Challenge - Day FIVE

I am not a Monday person......groan. LOL! At least this is a two day work week! YAY! :D I was not motivated to do the photo challenge today, and I really did not want to take pics at school and all. Plus I forgot my camera, and truly this blog is about my horses, not about my job.

SO......I got a couple of comments about my last post, specifically the question WHAT IS DENGIE? So I thought I would show some pics about what my horses eat and why they eat it.

It must be added that I am NOT a veterinarian, not do I play one on TV. I am just a girl who has been riding horses for the past 24 years and has owned her own horse for the past seventeen. So that is my disclaimer. Yeah, I am pretty well educated about horses, specifically the ailments MY horses have/still do suffer from. But I am by no means an expert, and I would never claim to be. I have spent many hours researching feeds and supplements (just ask my friend Rachel!!!! LOL!!) and feed what I do based on what my horses need right now. I discuss things with my feed rep and with my vet. So again, please do not take my words as gospel. Each horse responds differently to things and have diverse needs.

So here is a photo of two of the three grains I feed. The grain on the left is Triple Crown Senior, which I feed to both Dreamy and Sparky . On the right is Blue Seal alfalfa pellets, which Sparky eats. I store my grain in an old chest freezer. It is perfect. You can see my 1 lb. measuring can on the left and the 1/2 lb. measuring can on the right. They are also perfect for measuring out the exact poundage of grain I need. I do not feed with "cans" or "dippers" as measurements, but rather weigh everything out and adjust by pounds. Each grain weighs something different, more or less. Coffee cans are just a tiny bit too large (they measure in at 1.25 lbs. not exactly a pound), but I have found that pumpkin cans are perfect! LOL!!!!

The other grain I feed is Triple Crown Performance 14, which is for Reva. This is just stored in a Rubbermaid trash can, and I forgot to take a photo of it. So in this photo here, we have Reva's PM grain at the top (green bucket), Dreamy's PM grain in the lower left (blue), and Sparky's in the lower right (burgundy). I mix the feed in those little buckets and then pour them into their hanging grain buckets. (BTW, I feed supplements at night feeding).

Right now, Reva, my three year old, is getting 2 lbs. a day of her Performance 14, which is split into two feedings. She probably eats 16-18 lbs. of hay each day in 3-4 feedings. Reva is only on MSM right now, seeing as she had very large puffy joints when she arrived, and every time she moved she popped and cracked like an old horse (!!!). It is cheap and I figure for now, it won't hurt. I think this was $24 for an 180 day supply? Because she is just an easy keeper, I can feed her such a small amount of grain. It is MUCH less than the recommended amount, I have also added Mega Cell, a multi vitamin supplement. It will arrive in a week or so with her Smart Pak. I was going to add her MSM to the Smartpak, but it would have been $10 a month! Um......if I can get half a YEAR of MSM at the feed store for only $24, why the heck would I pay $10 a month just for it to come in a Smart Pak???? LOL!!!! (I love my Smart Paks, but you also have to use your noggin.....)

Sparky, my 27 year old, is getting 3 lbs. of the TC Senior and 1 lb. of the alfalfa pellets each day split into two feedings. She is not as much of an easy keeper as she used to be, but still maintains her body condition on a smaller amount of grain than some older horses. She gets the alfalfa pellets because I had noticed over a year ago now that she was starting to not eat as much hay anymore. Her teeth are fine, the hay was fine, etc., but I noticed she was no longer eating the 12 lbs. a day of hay like usual. Because of this, she was starting to drop weight. Because of her Cushing's, I did not want to up her grain ration. SO......after much thought, research, and discussion with a Nutrena feed rep (I fed Nutrena forever until recently switching to TC....another story for another day....) I decided to try the alfalfa pellet. The feed rep told me to start with 1 lb. a day and work her up to 5 lbs. a day. WELL......the 1 lb. a day did the trick. She holds her weight like a champ. I would say she eats more like 5-7 lbs. of a hay a day now in multiple feedings, but still looks good because of the pellets. They help add the extra fiber she needs.

Sparky is on chastetree berries from MoreThanAlive for her Cushing's (stored in the little container in the lower right...I buy in bulk and only put one pound in the feed room at a time while I store the rest in the fridge. For the record, the pound cost has gone up significantly since I started feeding it 5 years ago. :( I can only guess it is because SO many people are now feeding it to their horses. The owner of MTA actually emailed me about 2 years ago asking if I fed it to my horse and how much, etc. She had started getting lots of emails about feeding the chastetree to horses and wanted help!), Corta-Flx for her joints, and TractGard for her tendency to colic and do weird colic-but-not-really-colic episodes where she decides not to eat or drink much, but her TPR is normal and she is not really "colicking" but she sure as heck is not right. She did it back in the fall of 2007 and then worse the spring of 2008, where she refused to eat or drink for 5 days. I nearly had a heart attack. So she was on cimetidine for a few weeks (bought at WalMart.....yeah it is a funny time to pick THAT up!) and is now permanently on the TractGard. It is great because it is a pellet and Miss Picky will eat it. And I do think it has helped her quite a bit! She was also on flaxseed for for the past year and a half too, but I ran out at the end of the summer, was too poor at the moment to buy more, and so far I think she is just fine. The nutritionist at Foxden (makers of the TractGard) recommended it to me back when she had the weird colic-not-colic episode and I started the TractGard.

Dreamy, my 18 year old, is currently on 3 lbs. a day of TC Senior split into two feedings. She has COPD, so I spent lots of time finding a supplement that would help her with that. Not only did it have to WORK, she had to also EAT it. Sparky is picky, but Dreamy is downright stubborn. For many years I gave her a product called Wind. It was fabulous. But when we started doing rated USDF shows this year, I had to find something else because the devil's claw is a banned substance. ARG!!!! So I put her on Immuzim. It seems to work OK. I think I might go back to the Wind now that show season is over. Six months of one and six of the other. We shall see. She is also on chastetree berries, as she was having attitude problems under saddle due to her heats. I never notice when she is in heat, but when I started working her more she began having little temper tantrums about once a month (noticeable from re-reading my blog....). And Dreamy is on Recovery EQ through Smart Pak for her joints.

Yes, I am nearly out of the Immuzim. I buy it in a gallon jug and only fill the smaller dosing bottle shown here. After tonight's feeding, I refilled the bottle. :)

Here is a close up of the chastretree can see that Sparky gets a full scoop while Dreamy gets about a third.

Now....those are all the daily feeds and supplements my mares get. Dreamy does have an arsenal of meds that she takes for her COPD though. I have a well stocked first aid kit. :) The blue coffee can at the top is full of Rounders. LOL! They each get a carrot in their PM grain and then a Rounder before I leave the barn. Spoiled? Yes.

If you look very closely, you can see the HUGE pill bottle of cimetidine from WalMart (middle left). The prescription is for SPARKY THE HORSE TEWKSBURY. ROFLMAO!

So, Dreamy is on the Immuzim daily. And I soak her hay from roughly May-November. The rest of the year she is on a product called Dengie Hi Fi. Basically because I live in Maine, from December - April her soaking hay makes hay ice cubes. There is no feasible and practical way for me to soak her hay in the winter. Even if I soaked it in my dirt floor basement, it would be a long walk from the front of my house to the barn out back with the hay in the wheelie cart thing. When there is over 3 feet of snow on the ground and it is hovering around 10 degree with a windchill of -5.....yeah. Not dealing with soaking wet hay.

So the Dengie is basically a chopped hay feed. Technically it is called Dengie everywhere except here in the US. So I am not sure why we have always called it Dengie since I was a kid. The stuff I buy is called Hi Fiber (HiFi). The website says: Horses suffering from respiratory problems and allergies associated with field-dried hay benefit by feeding our forage feeds. The high temperature drying process eliminates harmful mold spores that can lead to respiratory allergies (heaves), resulting in a chronic cough and decreased physical performance ability. Feeding your horse any one of Lucerne Farms high temperature dried forages will help prevent an allergic cough and to help keep his airways clear. My vet had me start with the HiFi and if she ballooned in weight, we would switch her to the Totally Timothy. But she did fine with the HiFi. And I like that Lucerne Farm is right here in Maine. :)

On an as needed basis, she gets Tri-Hist (antihistamine/decongestant) and Dexamethasone (steroid). She is only on these when she has had what I call a COPD "attack", which basically consists of a VERY high respiratory rate (Ever seen a horse panting? Yeah, NOT cool. Ask me how I know.....) and a persistent cough. I will write an entire post about COPD/heaves/RAO at some point in the future....but not right now.

And of course, when she presents with something really yucky, like a snotty nose, she gets SMZs (antibiotic) with the trusty balling gun and daily temperature checks. It can be hard to tell the difference between an allergic reaction and an infection or pneumonia.

So, that is my exciting photo challenge today. A mix of my daily feeding routine, plus a little info on what I do for my COPD allergy mare. :D

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Photo Challenge - Day Four

Today was a typical autumn Sunday, where I try to get as many winter chores done as possible. My husband has been off hunting with his buddies since Friday, which is nice but I do sort of miss him too! LOL! ;-) I like that he has gone hunting for the last three weekends, as it gives him insight into how to be/have a supportive spouse. He has not been supportive of my horse shows in the past, but he has lately been starting to understand that his hunting is like my horse showing. It's nice! :D Maybe he will be a good horsey husband after has only been EIGHT years! tee hee!

So to start my photo challenge today, here is the story of my life.....

And one of the projects for today was to figure out just how in the heck I was going to make nesting boxes for my chickens. They have started to lay in the last day or two, and with my husband gone, I really wanted to figure it out myself. (Besides which, my husband has NO time lately to help construct anything. He is a workaholic!) Of course, the easy way out would have been to ask my carpenter father to help me. He helps me out in my life in many ways, and I truly appreciate his help. BUT....I would have felt bad because my dad is the kind of guy who would have built chicken mansions, not plain ole chicken nesting BOXES. He would have gotten all serious and fancy about it. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, I would have just felt bad. LOL! So, I decided to muster all the Yankee ingenuity I could and came up with this:

The 5 gallon buckets are screwed into the wall. Yeah, they will probably be the biggest FAIL ever, but maybe, just maybe, they will work! ROFLMAO! We have five chickens, so there are five pails.

Of course, I completely cleaned out the coop, cleaned their feed and water thingys, and swept out the dustwebs.

And again, the story of my life. This time, instead of horse manure, it is chicken manure! :P

So we shall see. Maybe I am a really smart chicken farmer. :D Or maybe the chickens will lay their damn eggs all over the floor and I will be a complete idiot. Whatever. LOL! It would not be the first time one of my brilliant brainstorms did not work out.

Also took a trip to the feed store again. I seriously go there almost every day, sometimes even twice a day! LOL! This time I picked up the first ten bags of Dengie for the winter. SIGH! When Dreamy's soaked hay starts turning into hay ice cubes, I know it is time. For the last week, her hay has had a little bit of ice around the edges, but nothing serious. This morning, it was pretty darn frozen. She still eats it happily, but I knew it was time. My luck, now it will be above freezing all week. LOL! Whatever. It is in my barn now, so I am prepared.

I weigh it out for a few days, just to get used to it again. She gets 10 pounds of it a day, so a bag lasts me four days. During the really super cold days, she will get more as needed. She did great on it last year, so I suspect this year to be fine as well. Here is my super old kichen scale that I found in my barn. It works great! LOL! And I use a large rubber tub for the Dengie. I have two, one for her stall and one for outside.

And here are the last two photos of the day.....the BEST FIND at Equine Affaire in 2007!!!! I love these little handmade signs! I wish I had written down the name of the woman who made them. Better yet, I wish I were talented enough to make something like this myself.......nope!

Have a great week everyone! :) I know I will, as I only have to teach for TWO DAYS! LOL! Then lots of fun things planned for the Thanksgiving break. :D

2009 MHA Banquet (aka Photo Challenge - Day Three)

Last night's Maine Horse Association banquet was so much fun! Here I am all dressed up with a fun place to go! LOL! Is it wrong that the only time I dress up is for horse events? Show attire for competitions and fancy outfits for banquets......tee hee! I decided against my tiara and pink crystals........BAWAHAHAHAHA! ;D Guess it would be no use dressing as a dressage queen when I am not one.

I went with my friend Shelly and we always have a good time together, no matter the destination. It was a bit funny at first, since thought we would not know anyone there, so we sat alone at a huge table. LOL! At least Shelly can see dead people, so she did not have to sit completely alone. ROFLMAO! (Inside joke, sorry....but let's just say that even mentally crazy people who try to make life negative are NOT successful!) It was not a big deal, because I was there to be with Shelly, and who cared where we sat!?! Midway through the evening I ended up seeing the nice Friesian lady we met a DEHC this summer and a childhood friend with her mom. All of them laughed at us for sitting alone, but seeing as we arrived so early, we just took seats in the back and called it good. It was way more fun to be silly alone together than have to be "upstanding" with a group of acquaintances. LOL! And we were drinking water, so that makes it even more funny. :D

The Maine Horse Association folks overall do a great job, but especially the ever talented Rick Drew. We had a yummy buffet, a large silent auction, and they gave out 212 awards! WOW! They award only champion and reserve in each division, and award champion through fourth in the youth divisions. Then there were a handful of challenge trophies. So all told, there were 212 awards! Yes, I went through the booklet and counted......LOL! It was great to see the MAINE horse community doing so well! :)

Shelly and I did well in the silent auction, as she won a free night at a hotel located close to the Skowhegan Fairgrounds, and I won a free stall for the entire weekend of the Downeast Congress! So that was a fun plus! I donated three small items to the silent auction, as I was told they needed things that would be affordable for the younger kids. Shelly was the biggest auction stalker ever.....which I fully attribute to her father. LOL! Apple does not fall far....... :)

All in all, it was a great night, especially to have the Standardbreds back in the awards for MHA. It has been many many years since the Standardbreds have had a breed division with MHA (and it is the only STB breed division in rated shows in the entire state!). I am proud to say it is because of my effort contacting MHA and securing sponsors that made it happen (with some help from Nonni too!) Next year looks to be even bigger, as I have already secured sponsors and the MHA has agreed to add the division to more shows. YAY! And we have already submitted a plan for a Maine Standardbred Challenge trophy for 2010 as well. I am very pleased to be the driving force behind such a cool promotion for a great breed! :D

Great work to our fantastic horses, McKeever Hanover and Dreamy Starlet!

McKeever Hanover
Reserve Champion Standardbred In-Hand
Reserve Champion Standardbred 2-Gait Pleasure

Dreamy Starlet
Champion Standardbred 2-Gait Pleasure