Saturday, May 28, 2011

Damage report

Actually, this is more of an update of how everyone is healing rather than reporting new damage. About time too.

Taran's leg is healing well. He's going to have a scar where the stitches were, but I suspect in another month or two you'll barely know it's there.

Cash's eye is looking good too. You can hardly tell where he cut it.

My back is doing much, much better. After any number of hours laying on a heating pad, not to mention loads of ibuprofen, it now spends its time mostly feeling just fine. As for having a cracked rib, I don't think that was ever the problem. Maybe I did have a rib out, I don't know, but I do know that carrying my laptop bag on that shoulder tends to aggravate it, and if my neck is feeling stiff my back starts to twinge too. I'm just paying a little more attention to my body and trying to keep the muscles loose, and that seems to be working. I still have one more laser treatment that I could go in for, but shockingly, I don't think I'll be going back to that particular chiropractor ever again.

The only new damage is this beauty. As near as I can tell, Cash got crammed in the corner and in a bid to escape his tormentor (likely Taran), this was the result. Surprisingly, Cash only had a few minor scratches, and everyone else was fine. I suspect he jumped it. Not bad for an old man, but poor guy. The moral of the story is that Cash MUST be separated from everyone else (i.e. in the stall) if the boys have to be up for any length of time due to inclement weather. He's such a wuss.

Oh and today's heat index is something like 105. We even get a special weather statement! I've gotta get back outside and finish doing what I can while it's still reasonable. Yikes.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Taran's feet (a la Rockley Farm)

Nic's lovely posts (over at Rockley Farm) showing how feet change over time inspired this entry.

Taran is a 9 year old Fells Pony/TB cross. He's had front shoes only for the last 5 years, and until three weeks ago was boarded in a fairly conventional arrangement - in a stall at night, then outside all day, munching at a round bale. He really didn't get much exercise, and then it was primarily limited to an arena with nice footing.

Taran's perfectly sound. His owner, Fuzzypony, chose to pull his front shoes when he came to live at our house. He's got good, solid feet, we're not on rock, and she's not riding much, so keeping shoes on seemed unnecessary. He's been without front shoes for 3 weeks now, and has never in his life had hind shoes on.

Taran fronts. If you look closely you can see where the event line is (about an inch down) from when the shoes came off.

Left front. Frog is sloughing off. It's nice and wide, but the there's not much to the caudal hoof.

It looks like the heel needs to be trimmed (and it probably could be worn a bit more), but in reality, I think the caudal hoof needs to beef up. The deep split in the heel bulb also has me concerned - could there be thrush lurking in there?

Same foot viewed from the side. The way the back of the hoof is being pulled under is really evident.

Hinds look pretty good...

We took some video footage of him walking. The toe-first landing is really evident on the fronts. The LH lands more heel-first than the RH, which lands almost flat.

Taran feet.

Interesting for a horse that has never been shod... is that a result of lack of exercise over stimulating surfaces? I would guess so, but I'm interested in what others think.

Monday, May 23, 2011

This would be funny if it were happening to someone else...

I might as well just give up and make a list of the things that are ABOUT to break so I'll have some idea of what to expect to go wrong when the hubby goes out of town.

If you've been reading for a while, you'll know that things break or something goes oddly wrong when the hubby leaves town. The shed roof fell down one time. The CV boot on the car ripped when I went over a stick another time. I've had services turned off because the power company screwed up, extra horses show up for breakfast, trees fall on fences... I think I've lost track. So when the AC died yesterday about an hour after the hubby left for a week-long trip, I really don't know why I was all that surprised.

The bad news is that it makes the most sense to get an entirely new unit ($$$$$). The good news is that they can install it tomorrow, AND they can fix the air intake and backflow valve while they're at it. And the other good news? It happened THIS weekend instead of NEXT weekend when I will have a whole bunch of family members in town.

But really, I think I've had about enough of stuff happening while he's gone. Maybe *I* should travel next time and the hubby can stay home to see what breaks... or maybe it will all get fixed instead?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Looking for 3 villages to place eediots

Tonight when I got home, there was the usual cute little Reddums face hanging over the gate in the barn, reminding me that it was, in fact, dinner time, and could I please hurry it up a bit?

The other horses were conspicuous in their absence.

I changed clothes and headed out to start the dinner routine. I tucked Reddums in the stall (to avoid arguments), and got out the alfalfa. Taran, Saga, and Cash were all in the backyard pasture, watching me closely. I called to them, figuring they'd head over, but no. They just stood there.

Since we installed our track system (which I'll have to post more about later), we have a 15 foot wide "track" that goes just inside the perimeter fence. To get from the barn to any of the pastures or hay feeders, the boys have to use a rather circuitous route, which means they get more exercise than if they just walked from point A to point B. However, as I discovered today, they don't necessarily remember that they have to go around to get certain places. The backyard pasture shares a fence with the barn, but there's no gate directly to the barn. Instead they have to go out the gate on the east side of the pasture, around track that goes around the back of the property, and back around to the barn. They have done this before, but tonight at dinner time, their little walnut-sized brains could not process how to get to the barn if they couldn't go directly.

So after putting out the alfalfa, I got a lead rope, snagged Cash (since Taran and Saga usually follow him), and practically dragged him over the the gate on the east side. I then had to shush him halfway down the track before he finally remembered how to get home, and then sort of quickly moseyed back to the barn. Saga and Taran watched this routine carefully, but opted not to follow since dinner was practically right under their noses. I got Saga next, and he miraculously remembered how to get home as soon as I got him through the gate. He took off at a nice (rather sound-looking!) trot, and then cantered part of the way home. Taran, still not convinced, first refused to follow Saga and then refused to be caught. I finally got a rope over his neck and led him to the gate, whereupon he BOLTED for home.

Of course, Cash and Saga had pretty much finished off the alfalfa by the time Taran arrived. Oh well, you snooze, you lose.

So clearly Reddums understands how this system works and has his GPS set to home, regardless of current location or route needed to return. The other three I have no hope for - I'm wondering if a couple of villages are missing their four-footed eediots.

Maybe they'll remember tomorrow?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mid-week critter


Photographing for mid-week critter can be difficult sometimes. :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Trip to farmer's market (via horseback!)

One of the reasons we like our location so much is because we frequent the local farmer's market, held every Saturday. It's one of the top markets in the US, and one of the oldest. We get almost all of our produce there, year-round.

It turns out that you can actually ride to the market from our house. It's not far at all, and only crosses neighborhood streets. This weekend, we took one of my hubby's colleagues (visiting from out of town) to the market on Reddums, and Fuzzypony came too on Taran. The hubby rode Saga, and I rode Cash*.

It was like the four horsemen of the Apocalypse riding abreast down the street. We were sure to smile a lot and wave to the neighbors!

The market. We try to stay out of the way to avoid too much attention, but it's a little hard to ignore four cute horses. We got several parents with small children asking to pet the horses, which we allowed. Being good equine ambassadors is part of the job!

Cash inspects the day's purchases to see if anything might be edible. One of the vendors gave us some carrot tops for the horses, which the boys immediately devoured.

Where else can you ride to the market on your horse? Man, I love this place!

*Note: I've ridden Cash half a dozen times since we brought him home, only at a walk, and only a mile or two at a time. He really seems to like getting out with the others, and he hasn't taken a lame step. Awesome! I do not have any plans to do anything more with him unless he indicates he wants to - right now I'm basically taking him out for exercise, since he no longer has his 15 acre pasture with hills to keep him fit.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Memo to Pension and Retirement Services

Dear Sir/Madame,

I believe there has been some mistake made regarding my retirement. You see, several years ago I moved to a lovely facility called Paint Creek Ranch (how apropos, given that I am, in fact, a Paint) where I was to live out my days doing nothing more strenuous than eating and having a daily swim in my duck pond with my fellow gentlemen pensioners.

Here I am at Paint Creek Ranch. Isn't it just lovely?

However, two weeks ago my mum showed up, loaded me in a trailer (which I haven't been in for years, except to go to the vet), and took me "home." There I met Taran and Saga, who are really quite nice - Saga even shares his alfalfa and beet pulp. However, there is this vicious little pony (really! He's only 14.2 hh, the little midget) who apparently is offended by my beautiful spotted self - I would imagine he's jealous given that he only has a few roan hairs while I have these lovely, shiny, large black spots. Anyway, the little bugger proceeded to make my life miserable, kicking at me and running me through a fence. The nerve of him! Fortunately for him, I am far too much of a gentleman to retaliate, otherwise I could squash his little self flat in no time, I assure you.

Anyway, this new lifestyle suits me well enough now that that little Reddums creature isn't allowed near me. Although, there is no duck pond here, so I have asked the management to install one at their earliest convenience. The food is good and delivered in a timely manner, and I do enjoy getting more carrots from mum than I used to. However, I am sure there has been some grievous mistake, as retired horses are not ridden. And as you can clearly see from this picture, I am being ridden!

There's only one way to get a photograph like this, and it's from my back!

Now, please understand that I don't mind being ridden. In fact, I quite liked my previous job as an event horse - I must say I was very good at it, and I did look stunning, don't you think?

You know, the older I get, the better I was.

And then later, when mum retired me from eventing, I was a dressage schoolmaster. They call horses this because there comes a point when they are smarter than their riders. You see, when you are in a lesson and you are a schoolmaster, you simply pay attention to what the instructor is saying, and then you do it when it's your turn. Do your best to ignore your rider as they likely haven't a clue how to do whatever it is the instructor has asked - you are the expert here, and it's your job to let your rider know it. For example, if the instructor says to canter across the arena and then do a simple change at X, it's easy enough - just canter halfway across the arena, trot for five or so steps in the middle of the arena, pick up the other canter lead, and off you go! Remember to ignore whatever your rider is telling you to do since they are likely wrong. If you do it right, you make your rider look brilliant so they say "good boy!" a lot and pet you. The instructor is happy, and then you get extra treats at the end of the lesson. I don't know why some horses make such a fuss over this - you really only have to pay attention for an hour or so, and the better you make your rider look, the more treats you get. Quite simple, really.

So you see, I really have earned my retirement. I respectfully request that the pension office review their files and see what can be done about this riding thing. Although I suppose it is fun to get out again and show off a bit... these younger horses, they just don't seem to know how to behave. What is it with today's youth?

Very sincerely yours,

Mr. Black Tie Affair, Esq., aka Cash
Stall #1, Wyvern Oaks, Texas

Encl: Three photographs

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Hoof oddities

Before Cash is here too long and his feet change, I wanted to post pictures of his feet and compare them to Saga's. I'd also love to hear any advice on trimming for either of them.

Some background on Cash - he's been on 24/7 turnout in a 15+ acre pasture for the past three years. Footing is sand with Coastal (Bermuda) grass. Diet is grass with a daily flake of alfalfa in the winter and two cups of Triple Crown Senior morning and night. He's had no work, as he's been retired due to injury. However, he does appear sound today (WTC in the pasture, anyway).

Left front. Seems like good white line but heel is really weak. Maybe the bars need a bit of trimming?

Left front. Nice and concave, and balance seems good for this horse - worn more on the inside than the outside. Again, the heel doesn't look very robust.

LF on the ground. I think the heel is underrun and the toe is not at the same angle as the coronet band. Yes? No?

I'm hoping to get a picture of him moving - he's always had a very odd way of going, almost smacking his front feet on the ground. I'm not sure what's causing it... maybe it's the hoof angle?

Now, on to Saga. He's been out of shoes for 1 year. He's on 12+ hours of turnout/day, and when he's "up," he's in a large sand paddock. He gets free choice Coastal hay fed through a slow feeder/haynet, 2 flakes of alfalfa per day, and minimal grain (more of a ration balancer). I've been playing with his feed for most of the last year and I think we finally have something that's low in NSCs but still keeps him nice and plump, as he tends to be a bit of a hard keeper.

Saga, RF. Seems like his heels could come down a bit and maybe the bars need a bit of a trim. The hoof wall also seems long all around, but experience says that if I trim it back much, he'll be lame. Should I just do more of a mustang roll all around?

RF again. The inside of the hoof looks more robust than the outside.

Unfortunately he's not standing squarely here, but he does graze with his RF forward. Note the event lines in his feet, as well as the flaring and chipping (again, indicators of hoof wall being too long and/or not balanced. What can I do to help it?).

Here's a really good shot of how concave his front feet are. This is the reason I took his shoes off in the first place, to try to grow this out. A year later, he has still not been trimmed in such a way that his hoof angle is consistent all the way down. Would frequent (weekly or bi-weekly) yet small touch-ups with rolling the hoof wall edge encourage a proper angle?

Looking forward to hearing opinions and advice!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mid-week critter

Artemis has discovered how to get up into the rafters in the barn. I think she's jumping up on the hay bales and then launching to the rafters.

Hellooooo down there!

Just a blur of motion...

Naturally she wanted help down, which I declined to give. She eventually figured it out though.

Do your cats get into odd places?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Don't MESS with the War Pony!

Once again, pictures from the jousting tournament this weekend.

The property where the joust was held is absolutely beautiful - a bottomland pecan grove right on Lake Austin.

When I mentioned "heading a horse," this is what I was talking about. The ground crew literally hold the horse and/or lead them into the lane for the run. You can tell from the flopping caparison (the stuff that Red is wearing) that he was dancing around, really amped up for his run. At 14.2 hh, Red was fairly easy to manage - the big drafts or draft-crosses were much more challenging.

I might be bribing Reddums (with a treat in my hand) to stand still and look cute for this picture...

The best pictures of the weekend are from Azuloz Photography and are copyrighted, so I can only post links, but they are worth clicking as they are amazing!
And finally... I was on TV! I'm at the end of the video, helping the reporter get dressed in armor. And yes, I really did hit him with a tournament sword used in the melee' du cheval... but it was a light shot. I didn't think that knocking him on his butt would be very good for publicity!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Remember that part about Cash being accident-prone?

Today I came home to this awesome piece of work:



It's just skin and not hugely deep, but man, what a place to get cut. I've no idea what he did it on either. I sponged it a bit while Cash did his best imitation of a Great Spotted Giraffe, decided there wasn't anything the vet was going to be able to do that I couldn't, and put Dermagel in the general vicinity of the wound (because you know how hard it is to get anything IN a wound on a giraffe's head).

Maybe if I wrap him in bubble wrap it would help?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Oh yeah bay-beee

Whew! We just got back from Lysts on the Lake, got everyone fed and tucked in... time for a bit of a breather before heading back to our "normal" lives tomorrow.

Reddums was, as usual, a star. The hubby rode him in all three different competitions - a skill at arms (essentially the mounted games that medieval knights used for practice), a mounted melee' a cheval (a grand battle on horseback, with all 18 competitors fighting with rubberized swords - after you get hit 5 times you're out. Hitting a horse automatically disqualifies you.), and finally, the jousting. In this competition, jousting was for points - 1 point if you touch the shield but don't break the lance, 2 points if you break the lance on the body, and 3 points if you break the lance on the shield. Heads and below the waist are not legal targets.

I don't actually know how the scores in the skill at arms turned out, but the hubby was 4th in the mounted melee and was second overall in the competition. Overall it was in incredibly successful weekend and the hubby had lots of fun.

I didn't take many pictures because I spent all my time as a line judge, which essentially means I stood at the end of the jousting barrier and called the hits. The jousters are wearing so much armor that they can't often see or feel where the hit was made. As part of being a line judge, I also got to head some of the more excitable horses down the lane (imagine hanging on to a jazzed 1600 lb Percheron while waiting for the jousters to be ready) and act as a human stopping block for horses coming down the lane towards me. A friend of mine who teaches eventing showed up to watch and told me afterward that I was crazy - well at least I'm not the one up there with the lance!

Here's the hubby getting Red ready for the skill at arms (no armor needed). Yes, I sewed the trappings that Red is wearing.

Azulox photography took some amazing pictures of the joust and the mounted combat. Since they are copyrighted (although we are purchasing a photo package, so we'll have ones to show here soon), I can only link to them.
  • The hubby on a joust pass. You can see the lance at the moment of impact - his opponent is aiming for his shield, but missed by a tiny bit and is about to hit him in the face instead. The three-pronged silver thing at the end of the lance is called a crenel and is designed to help prevent the lance from skipping off the shield. The ones we used were made of cast resin.
  • The hubby fighting in the melee' du cheval. His tournament baton (what they used instead of steel swords - in medieval times these were made of oak; ours were made of cast resin over a wood core) is over his head behind him, deflecting a shot from his opponent on the right. A moment after this picture was taken, my hubby had smacked the guy on the right. :)
The final lineup at the end of the competition. Notice how small and cute Reddums looks in amongst all the drafts (Red is the 3rd from the left).

At the end of the day, the knights all did a mounted charge across the field. You can see the cameraman that they charged toward in the far left of the picture. (He said afterward that it was one of the scariest shots he'd ever taken - the ground was shaking!)

The very real dangers of jousting - my hubby (on the right) had a shot slip down off his opponent's shield and onto his maille skirt. You can see the hole the lance left in his maille, which he put back on just for this picture. The guy is fine and they had great stories to tell over dinner!

Reddums had a well-deserved massage and chiropractic adjustment after - he worked hard this week/weekend and was really a star. He had a good roll first thing when he got home, followed by a quick jaunt around the pasture before tucking in to dinner. And speaking of tucking in, I'm off to bed myself. It's been a long weekend!