December 30, 2010

Cure for the common cold.

My 10-day vacation and holidays included two days of airport borne food poisoning followed immediately  by a nasty cold and cough. We've been back in town and back to "real life" for three days now, and the cold just lingers. Last night I finally made it to the barn to see Miss Thing and to feed.

I'd be lying if I said that I was indifferent to the fact that she didn't seem to care that I finally returned, and was focused entirely on the fact that she wanted dinner, NOW! Hump. Well, once she was fed she seemed to be pleased that I pulled her from her paddock for a grooming session. That's something I guess.

After spending an hour, mid-sniffle and cough, hanging out and getting her all pretty I put her back and headed home. I contemplated ending her vacation two weeks early, as I hate not being able to ride her. However, I made a promise that she'd get two full months I'm sticking with it. I think I may longe her tonight though, as she seems to be quite full of herself. She is holding weight well this year, which is a relief! I was not sure how being un-blanketed all winter would effect her weight. To that end though, she will need a clip of some sort for getting back into work, and will have to be blanketed for a few months. I'm thinking I'll put an Irish clip on her so that she still has bum hair to protect her from the wind and rain. However her tummy (the part that gets the filthiest) and her sweaty parts will be trimmed. Regardless, it will need to happen in the next week or two so that her summer coat doesn't get effected. This also means I'll have to find a warmish day to wash at least half of her. This will definitely be a challenge.

The moral of the story though? I've been taking everything to get this cold to go away. Well guess what I needed? Apparently one night in the fridged, cold, wet, air at the barn! Today I can finally breath through my nose and I have more energy that I have had in two weeks. Go figure.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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Adventures In Colt Starting

December 23, 2010

Longer days at last

December 21st has finally come and gone!

It is by far my most favorite day of the winter. Yeah, Christmas and New Years are fun an all, but December 21st means longer days, the end to driving to the barn in the dark, the eventual end to the non-stop rain, the return of riding in polo shirts, and taking Rose to her first show. Yea! I simply cannot wait for that day to arrive.

I have very little to report lately as I have been traveling all over the place for the holidays and haven't had a single break until now to sit down and blog. Rose is enjoying her vacation, and it appears to be doing wonders for her attitude. She is very excited to see me when I come to the barn and greets me at the gate every time, not making me walk to her. I guess she enjoys a lifestyle of playing all day, and then getting treats and spa treatments in the evening, and I can't say that I blame her. I am looking forward to getting back in the saddle though. Outside of riding and skiing I don't get much exercise as I don't enjoy running in the cold rain and I'm not going to join a gym for two months. As such I feel like a marshmallow. Anyway, I am very excited to get going again and move forward in our training and start practicing the intro level tests...bring it 2011!

Happy holidays!

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Adventures In Colt Starting

December 9, 2010

Dental Work

Rose gets her annual power float.

I can't believe it's been a year since the super cold day last December (9ºF) that I spent an hour loading Rose onto a trailer and hauling her to my vet for her first float. Luckily, this year, the barn vet made float house calls, so no need for a wasted vacation day and a 45 minute haul (although I now smile happily with the knowledge that it takes all of a few second to load her onto our trailer). I think it made Rose more comfortable having the vet make a house visit rather than being hauled off the property. She was super relaxed and well behaved on minimal sedatives, and she even rested her favorite hind foot the whole time. She was such a good girl, the vet couldn't have been happier with her. Gold star for Rose!

Side note:
For my few non-horse owning/riding readers out there...this is not a medieval torture device. This is actually the most humane way for horses to get their dental work done.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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Adventures In Colt Starting

December 6, 2010

Saddle at long last!

I've finally found a saddle, in my price range, that fits me and is super comfortable, and fits Rose as well as a non-custom, non-adjustable saddle is going to fit her ever-growing and changing warmblood back. Rose was a bit miffed that her vacation was interrupted for 20 minutes Sunday afternoon, but she got over it. Now she can go back to enjoying the remaining 5 weeks of vacation.

What is it? It's a used JRD Accord. Prior to trying out this saddle, I'd never heard of a JRD before. However, upon closer observation in my surroundings, I discovered that several people at my barn have them. The only thing I'm not totally thrilled about is that it seems to have the heck flocked out of it. That's no biggy to get fixed though. I'm hoping that the saddle maker/owner of JRD, Mehrdad Baghai, will be up our way in the next couple months so that he can adjust the flocking for Rose's back. Right now seems to sit just fine on her back, but I know that it was flocked for the previous horse that was ridden in it, so I'd like to make sure that there isn't anything weird going on that could make her crooked, etc. I'm being overly paranoid about it I'm sure! It also seems a tiny bit wide for her. However, that's hard to judge because she's lost some muscle tone already, she'd butt high again, and I think the pommel shape is just different than the saddle I've been borrowing to ride her in. There is still plenty of room between the pommel and her I think it's just fine. However, I think I shall have Mehrdad look at that as well, given that apparently he can do some minor adjustments to the trees of his saddles. I figure in the worst case scenario, I can put a shim pad on her.

Well, I'm looking forward to 2011 and this horse vacation being over so I can play with my new old saddle!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!


Adventures In Colt Starting

December 3, 2010

Barefoot diet...follow up

Thank you everyone for your helpful comments. The ration balancer that Story mentioned seems like the perfect "grain" solution for Rose. I have decided to try the LMF Super Supplement Formula G and to swap out her alfala pellets for timothy pellets, and I have already cut out the vegetable oil that she was getting.

Rose's front left, showing the "shedding frog",
which all of her feet are currently doing.
I like that the Supper Supplement also provides a good source of copper. I have noticed that her frogs on all four feet completely "shed" several times a year. My farrier is not concerned with it, as most peoples barefoot horses do the same thing around here and he see's it as normal. It also does not seem to make her feet sore at all. However, I can't turn my curious brain off...ever, so I looked into it more. From what I've read it sounds like this "shedding" might actually be due to some sort of low grade thrush that is caused by our nice wet/humid PNW environment we live in. One assumption is that horses lacking in copper tend to have more frog shedding issues. So, hopefully the copper in the LMF will help with that.

As for me thinking this might be some sort of thrush, let me explain that she doesn't have the black stinky thrush that we all immediately think of. Other than the "shedding" frogs the surface of her hoof looks perfectly normal. In terms of her environment, she has a clean paddock that is picked daily (wet on rainy days but not muddy), and a nice big clean dry loafing shed with pellet bedding to hang out in. Regardless of the weather, her feet are always dry and clean when I pull her from the paddock. Her frogs shed at this same time last year, and at that time she was on day turnout and stalled at night, all winter long. So I'm thinking that this copper thing might actually be the case. At any rate we shall see!

Just doing my best to get her hooves in the best barefoot condition possible.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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Adventures In Colt Starting

December 2, 2010

A very special visitor!

Something very exciting happened last night. Gatsby has come to stay at our barn for a while! I am so excited to get to know him better and to watch Tracie work with him.

Awesome rider + awesome horse = one very cool thing to watch.

Of course I am biased, but I think he is just one heck of a handsome horse, not to mention how amazingly gentle and sweet he is! Yesterday was one of my night check days and he was a perfect gentleman at feed time and gave me no problems blanketing him. Quite impressive given that he'd just arrived that afternoon. His personality is far cry from the stallions I had to handle in my early 20's (halters, stud chains and whips in hand were needed just to enter the stalls). After I was done with my nightly chores I couldn't help but hang out with him a bit and notice how much Rose looks like him and how many mannerisms / personality traits they share. I'm guessing that it is probably a really rare opportunity for someone to get to board with and get to know their horse's sire, so I don't plan on taking it for granted.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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December 1, 2010

Getting serious about barefoot performance...

4-weeks post trim and looking good!
In the beginning, I had no reason to put shoes on Rose, she was only 2½ and not started.  Given that she was just getting used to having her feet handled, my farrier wasn't inclined to rush her into it either. We were both certain that to put front shoes on her would require drugs...LOTS and LOTS of drugs. So, over a year has passed, she graduated from filly to mare, started, and has been just fine. At some point I came to the place, when asked about it, that my automatic response became "I'm going to keep her barefoot as long as I can, as long as she can work barefoot and be sound".

Today I started thinking about that automatic response of mine and have realized that along the way I at some point became a barefoot performance horse owner AND I am 100% going to stick with it (again, so long as she can perform and be sound). This lunch time realization made me ponder what all I know about barefoot performance.

I know very little.

The fact that I don't know much about going barefoot isn't that surprising. I've never had a barefoot horse before. Hunters "don't do barefoot" unless they are ponies. "Going Barefoot" was always something sick, old, dying horses had to do, or was analogous to witch-craft. However, now that I have decided to keep her that way and stick with my barefoot performance horse goal I need to shrug off my hunter biases, embrace the inner wiccan, and bone up on my material (here is a great website showing some great barefoot jumpers).

Self educating facts that have lead me to stick with the barefoot thing:
  • The hoof is part of the horses circulatory system. When a horse steps the hoof pumps blood back up the leg. Stick nails in a hoof, it disrupts that system, and the horse doesn't get enough blood pumping/oxygen to their heart to perform at their best when in work.
  • The hoof expands and absorbs pressure when the horse moves. A barefoot horse, raised barefoot, will more quickly and easily achieve balance and coordination with their feet and be more surefooted than their counterparts. This doesn't mean a shod horse can't be balanced or coordinated, but it's just harder for them to do the same thing than a barefoot horse.
  • A horses hoof, like the rest of it's body, keeps growing until it is 5 years old. If you put a shoe on it before then, the shape and structure of the hoof can become permanently be deformed.

These all seem like no brainier good reasons to keep shoes off of any horse to me, especially a young one. Of course some horses really do need shoes and I'm not anti shoe now, I'm just really going to try and keep Miss Thing barefoot if possible. Why, I wonder, is this never discussed in show barns? How did I have to end up with a barefoot horse that was difficult about trimming to find out about this? It seems like an educational deficit...and a topic could spar a whole separate blog. Back on topic: from what I've read, we are already doing two of the three basic things necessary for sound barefoot performance horses correct, albeit by accident.

1. Turnout: She is on turnout 24/7, in a large dry paddock so that she can move all day long, and then is on pasture during the days when permissible. So she has a range of surfaces to walk on and the ability to move around constantly.  This happened entirely due to her utter unhappiness being in a stall all the time.

2. Trim: She gets very good barefoot trims from Rick every 5 or 6 weeks depending on schedule. Not only is he a certified Journeyman Farrier, but he also specialized in natural barefoot trimming. She has begun self trimming at long last and only needs to be tidied up now. She has very healthy frogs and heels.The self trimming started entirely on its own once she was on 24/7 turnout.

3. Diet: This is where our biggest deficit is and my research begins. Apparently sugar is bad and can make a barefoot horse "ouchy"...which I've certainly noticed when she walks over large gravel or when the ground freezes. From what I've read, that tells me she has too much sugar in her diet and we need to fix it.

Rose's diet over the summer focused on putting weight on her ever growing body for inspection this past August. She's on 5-6 flakes of high quality Eastern Oregon Orchard Grass hay, 2qts of Alfalfa Pellets, 1qt LMF Showtime, 1/4cu.vegetable oil, raspberry leaves, and vitamins. Since barefoot horses need a high fiber/protein, and low sugar diet I'm guessing this means removing the oil and showtime from her diet? I am thinking that I should replace the showtime with whole oats so that she doesn't start dropping weight. I am also not sure about the alfalfa pellets? Should I switch to timothy pellets instead? Any advice would be most appreciated.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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Adventures In Colt Starting


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