February 27, 2015

Rocking the Dry-lot

Yesterday afternoon, I decided to give Gentry a few hours of more freedom in the dry-lot. After locking Hugo in the double stall, I let Gentry out of the pen that he had been in all day. Their was no silliness, beyond lots of rolling. Apparently the fresh snow felt good to him. Hugo was understandably cross about being in the stall, and it appear that he is a massive stall pacer. I am so glad that he's not the one that was on stall rest.

Since that went so well, this morning I simply swapped the boys places. Hugo went into the stall and Gentry is out in the dry-lot. Hugo continues to express his displeasure with the situation, but I imagine he can suck it up for one day. After-all, he has lots of yummy hay to keep him occupied.

Dry-lot Freedom

I placed Gentry's hay piles around the dry-lot to encourage him to move around more. While he was milling about he decided to chase my dog out of the dry-lot. That is pretty typical game the two of them play, but up until today Gentry hasn't really felt up to it. So, I was very excited to see him dip his head, pin his ears, and heard my dog out of the dry-lot. In the process he trotted a bit and cantered. The trot looked good, and he cantered with all four legs!

Conformation. For 6-weeks on stall rest, not too bad.
He definitely lost some muscle tone. Can't wait to get that back.

Cute fuzzy pony face

I am greatly encourage by his relatively sound canter that he displayed, so tomorrow I will move Gentry into the big pasture and put Hugo in the pen. I imagine the pen will be more to Hugo's liking than the stall. Fingers crosses all continues to go well. It would be nice to have them both in turnout together 24/7 soon!


February 25, 2015

Operation Freedom Commences & Week 7 Update

Last Wednesday, after working up to 20 minutes of hand walking, I started introducing turnout into Gentry's routine. I've been turning him out into our smallest paddock, which I call "The Pen". It is about 35'x35'. I started out with 1 hour, slowly working him up to full day turnout, but still stalling him at night. That was yesterday. He's doing great and his leg felt really good.

Gentry in his small turnout pen

Cannon Bone Wound - Week 7
The only problem with introducing controlled turnout, is this guy.

At first I tried letting them share a fence. But that was anything but controlled. I have since solved the problem of zoomies, bucking, face fighting, and rearing over the fence with separation. I put a big 'ole gap between them.

Together...but not
Now that Gentry is back on full day turnout I will start to let him have some turnout in the bigger dry-lot (1/4 acre). However, not until the footing is good again, and it will still have to be controlled. So, my solution to that will be to put Hugo in the stall while Gentry is stretching his legs. Again, starting with an hour, and them working up to all day. After that, I will put Hugo in the pen, and Gentry out in the pasture. Once he seems to be finally moving well on his leg at all three gates, I will let the boys share a fence-line, and then have turnout together. I figure this plan of action will take a few weeks total, weather dependent of course.

I am probably over thinking the whole thing, and should just let them be together. But I really don't' want to risk Gentry re-injuring himself or a permanent lameness. Right now he walks fine, and trots okay. But half the time when he tries to canter he holds up his hurt leg, and does a rather impressive tripod canter. I think that once I see him cantering with all four feet, will be when it is time to let them be together. So, for now it seems prudent to try and minimize/eliminate their roughhousing.


February 20, 2015

Bates Caprilli Jumping Saddle

I finally got my hands on a Bates Caprilli Jumping Saddle. No, it's not a CWD or a Devoucoux. Although I would love one of those, I need a saddle that is adjustable. I don't know what kind/size of horse I will own down the line with my next project, and I am TIRED of saddle shopping. I do hope to have a luxurious saddle in my future once again, but only after I am done raising and training babies. They change too often, and while I can justify owning one nice saddle, I can't fill my tack room with nice saddles of every different width (though I kinda wish I could).

I am itching to actually sit in it...

As adjustable saddles go, the quality ranking in my opinion goes something like this:

  1. Pessoa
  2. Bates (older versions, not the new Wintec ones)
  3. Collegiate
  4. Bates Wintec
  5. Wintec

I know some people that love Wintec saddles, and as synthetic saddles go they are probably pretty good. I dont' like synthetic saddles though. Also, in my opinion their leather work is horrid. So, given that Wintec purchased them a while back, I did not want a new Bates. I would also have been happy with a Pessoa A/O, but with quality and popularity comes price, and I just did not see one come available in my price range. I started shopping in September, and sometime in early January I finally found a Bates that fit the bill. I was so excited for it to arrive.

Then Gentry got hurt.

The saddle arrived two days later. Just my luck. I am really pleased with the quality of it. It was really well taken care of and will work great for us. Right now it is sitting in the tack room clean, conditioned, and ready to go....one of these days.


February 19, 2015

Buck Brannaman Clinic

This past Monday I got the opportunity to go spectate a Buck Brannaman clinic in our town. If you don't know who he is, you should. He is "The Horse Whisperer". The character in the movie was based on Buck, and he also happens to be from our local area. Not from my town per-say, but one near by. There is also a great documentary about him on Netflix called "Buck".

Anyway, his daughter Reata Brannaman has started teaching the colt starting class at Montana State University here in Bozeman (click here for the class FB page if you are curious). This is her second year teaching the class, and I have to say I am impressed. It is a night and day difference from what the class, students, and colts looked like in the past. Honestly, in the past, anytime the colt starting students would come into the arena I would get the heck out of there. I hope these kids have half a clue how lucky they are to be learning from Reata. It almost makes me want to go back to college...almost.

Now, Buck Brannaman, because is he just an awesome human being in addition to being a legendary horseman, donated his time for free to do the clinic with Reata's students and all the spectator's donation money went to fundraising for the colt class. This all meant that for $20, I supported a great local cause and I got to absorb 4-hours of Buck's knowledge. I sat thereon my bench cushion, packed in like a sardine among 400 other people, in awe, not moving an inch the entire time. I took some great notes that I cannot wait to put to good use on both Gentry and Hugo.

I have also now resolved to save up the cash to attend one of Buck's four day Horsemanship 1 clinics with Gentry. I really wish I could have done one of his clinic's with Rose. I think it would have done wonders for her groundwork. Regardless, it will be a great opportunity for me and Gentry to get to clinic with him. Right now I am on a wait list for this year's August clinic. If I don't' get in, I will at least try and audit it.


February 18, 2015

Cannon Bone Wound Update - Week 6

Gentry's wound has started healing up really nicely since removing the bandage. I am always struck in amazement by how fast surface wounds on horses heal. He is now bandage free and we have worked up to 15-minutes of hand walking.

Cannon Bone Wound - Day 43

I have not seen him take one funny step or his hoof buckle under since moving him to the double stall and starting the hand walking. This is all such a relief.

Double Stall Luxury...almost the Ritz, is it not?

Now for the really good news!

After speaking to the vet tech this morning (my vet is out until Friday), starting this afternoon I am going to capitalize on the good footing and weather, which is predicted to vanish this coming Friday, and start introducing turnout in our small exercise paddock. Despite the glory of the double stall, I cannot wait to see him back in full turnout once again. Fingers crossed it goes well and he is not too much of a knuckle head in the small paddock.


February 16, 2015

Clean ALL the things

Stall rest, is fun! Is it not?

There are so many things that I can do with my time now that the weather is glorious. By the way, in case you are unfamiliar with Montana, we are experiencing April/May weather...not February. The reason most people don't flock to our state to live here is because we generally live in a frozen wonderland. Pretty, but cold. It takes a special kind of crazy person to live here. That being said, hey, East Coast, we want our snow back!

Despite that, I still enjoy warm weather. But my horse is out of commission. So, I can't ski, can't ride...what can I do? Well, all my tack that has been sitting in plastic tubs was begging for a good cleaning this last weekend. So I opened up the barn to let it air out, grabbed a chair, a beer, and got to work. My tub of Antares Saddle Conditioner is now empty. However, all my beautiful leathery things are now cleaned and conditioned and begging to be used.

Tub of Tack Hoarding Joy
For my dressaging days...

and the jumping days.

Or sold.

There were a few pair of reins that I know I will never use that I should pass down the road (black rubber reins and black web reins). Most everything else I do have a use for, or may at some point. For instance my figure eight caveson, standing martingale, spare stirrup leathers...and ONE MILLION girths.

I am a girth hoarder, and I had no idea.

I have both dressage girths and jumping girths in every single size. This happened because of Rose. As she grew I got new girths and then just put the old ones in storage. Then they accumulated. I will continue to hoard them though. I do still plan on getting another horse in the future, and I am TIRED of buying new tack. It is fun an all, but I love the tack I have.

I just don't need anymore girths.

That being said, I am intrigued by that Total Saddle Fit girth that has been plastered over social media as of late. I just cant figure out how it is any different than my Keiffer Anatomical girth. So I am wondering if it is really all that great, or they just happened to hire a great social media marketing firm. I leaning toward marketing, but if anyone out there would like to encourage my girth hoarding habit and is experienced with that girth...tell me all about it!


February 14, 2015

Weaning the Bandage

I spoke with my Vet on Friday, after sending her the photo of Gentry's wound from Tuesday's bandage change. The verdict is that I can stop bandaging him now! The granular tissue has filled in nicely, and it is time to let it scab up and finish healing. This is such great news. Frankly I have never in my life been so happy to see proud flesh.

However, Gentry has had a bandage on his leg for 5-1/2 weeks now, so we can't just pull it off cold turkey. The plan is to do 12 hrs on and off with the bandage for two days. I couldn't wait one more day though, so after we got off the phone mid-day Friday I went down to the barn and took off the bandage.

Cannon Bone Wound - Day 38

The wound looked even better. I cleaned it up and sprayed it with Vetericyn and then let Gentry be bandage free for the rest of the afternoon, and then wrapped him back up for the night. Today was the first full 12 hours bandage free and it continues to heal up at a fast pace and is looking good and scabby. There was actually very little swelling in his leg this evening, and just a little heat at the wound site. All fairly normal for this sort of thing. So, I happily wrapped him up again this evening and look forward to tomorrow evening's bandage being the last I will have to do (knock on wood...vigorously).

With bandage weaning also comes hand walking. Yay! I am to start with 5 minutes of walking Gentry in hand, working up to 20. Since we get to hand walk now, it was also time to move him into a more comfortable double stall for the remainder of his stall rest. Hubs and I were actually ahead of the game on this one, and got him moved into his comfy double stall last night. In addition to the hand walking, he will get a little self exercise as well.

More room! Double stall time.

To say Gentry was happy to have the extra space would be an understatement. He literally jumped straight up in the air and bucked from a dead stand still when I took off his halter. That was the extent of his exuberance though. Mostly he just sighed a lot and seemed happy to be able to walk around.

The hand walking is going well so far. Gentry has not taken a funny step at all and I have yet to see his hoof buckle under, as it was prone to do early on in the recovery period. Although happy to be out of his stall, he is not acting hot or ridiculous at all. Operation Freedom is looking good (once again I am knocking ridiculously hard on my wood desk as I type).

Figuring out where and how to hand walk Gentry has proven to be a challenge though. We've had amazing weather (60's and sunny) so the footing is finally good. After trying and failing several different pasture set-ups with Hugo, I finally decided to just tie him up when I brought Gentry out. If I left him free in the other pasture, he became very excited that Gentry was out and would start galloping around and bucking like a mad man. Gentry of course is pretty calm, but would still startle at Hugo's antics. Not good for the injured leg. For some reason, tied up, Hugo just stands their like nothing of note is going on. Silly boy. At least I figured out how to get some peaceful hand walking done though.

Here is to hoping the rest of the weekend continues to go so well!


February 12, 2015

Update : Cannon Bone Wound - Week 5

Photo Update

Cannon Bone Wound - Week 5
We are slowly getting there. Gentry's skin is filling in more and more every time I change the bandage. This is what it looked like on Tuesday when I changed it. Finally there is nothing red visible in the wound! We are going on week 5 of stall rest now. I am hopeful that by next week I can stop bandaging it, and then I know the heeling will speed along (assuming no more infections). I will be sending this picture to the vet today to see what they say.

It has been about two weeks since the vet was last out during the cellulitis incident. Given that our weather has been in the 50's (sorry east coast people), sunny, and dry, resulting in good solid footing, yesterday I decided to pull Gentry from his stall and watch him walk. He is a little sore on his leg, as one can expect, but actually walked pretty well. I didn't see his foot buckle under at all. I am hopeful that means the tendon is on its way to being heeled up as well. Operation Freedom is on my mind non-stop these days. He continues to be a saint about his stall rest though, so that's good.


February 9, 2015

I Made Some Jumps!

I am apparently an insane person who likes to torture themselves buy building fun things that I cannot play with. Gentry is on stall rest, and all the snow/ice melted, so what do I do with my spare time? I build some cross country jumps, but of course!

Okay, calling them jumps is kind of a joke. They are more of tall cavaletties than jumps, but hey, they are jumps.

Tiny Cross Country Jumps
So pretty in the morning sunlight!

The log jump is about 14" high and the ex is about 6" in the center, and 9" on the ends. Seriously, tall cavaletties. This summer I plan on securing both jumps and making the ex taller with the use of additional rail road ties that we have laying around the property. Right now the log and the cross poles are just sitting on top of the rail road ties. At some point we will be doing a bunch of earthwork on the property to re-do all the landscaping and create terraced retaining walls. I plan on taking advantage of the heavy equipment and installing a bank jump somewhere. In addition, down by the arena, there are some old barrels that I plan on turning into jumps down in park area.

Depending on how Gentry's recovery goes, I might just start looking for a horse to lease for the summer, if he's going to be on stall rest for that long. Or at least play with Hugo on days when EB can't make it out to ride. Then I will be able to play with the jumps. So, I'm mot really torturing myself with the whole jump building thing...right?


February 6, 2015

Cannon Bone Injury Update - Week 4

Hail Mary, the cellulitis went away! The SMZ's and bute did their job as planned, and I didn't have to do any extra treatments (e.g. sweat wrap) to rid Gentry's hock of extra swelling. Also, when I changed his bandage on Wednesday, it was noticeable that his wound has finally "filled in", for lack of a better term. By filled in, I mean that when I wiggle his skin there is no movement on the sub-layers of skin. There was also no fluid that I could squish out and everything just looks clean and healthy, all-be-it still rather gross. Obviously there is going to be a scar, but I don't think anything can be done about that at this time. At least the skin on the sides that took the stitches has healed up perfectly. You can barely even see where the skin was cut now.

Right now I just want Gentry to be sound. After-all, I didn't buy him to be a halter horse, but a doing horse. So big deal if there is a little scar in the end. I care more about that tendon healing up correctly.

We still have healing to do before leaving the bandage off, but it all seems to finally be heading in that direction. Now that the cellulitis is gone, we are back to bandage changes every other day. It is nice to be back to a more regular stall rest routine now of simply feeding, filling water tubs, and throwing hay. Hurrah! Once his wound is fully healed, then I will have the vet out again to take a look at him walk and determine if the tendon is okay for Operation Freedom.

Photo Timeline Update

Cannon Bone Injury Wound - Week 4


February 2, 2015

Surviving Stall Rest

I cannot imagine that there is a horse owner out there that is happy about dealing with stall rest. If they do exist, they clearly have some sort of masochistic issues that need to be dealt with. However, I think most of us agree that stall rest is a necessary evil. I hope for most horse owners that they never have to deal with stall rest. Sadly for me, I have had to inflict it on my horses several times over the years and have learned to tolerate it. This time however is the longest stretch, and will continue to be for an unknown period of time.
Stall rest, week 3 and counting...

This is also the hardest stall rest I've had to deal with. Mostly because my horse is at home now, which means that I have to work stall mucking, medication, and bandaged changes into my already full and complicated schedule. To top it off I slipped on the ice, during day two of stall rest, and bruised my tail bone. That took three weeks to heal, and I can just now easily bend over and pick things up. It made mucking very slow and painful. Not fun. I guess if I were a stall rest masochist though, that would have added to the fun.

As horse owners, we do what we can and we suffer through it with a smile on our faces most of the time. In the end, a healthy, happy, sound horse will be well worth all the extra toil. I suspect that for most of us, our concern over stall rest isn't just all the extra work involved, but maintaining our horse's sanity.

Rose hated stalls when I first got her. However, stall rest or not, she had to be in a stall from time to time depending on our boarding situation and show schedule. I was desperate to do whatever it took to occupy her mind and also keep barn owners happy. As a result I learned a few tricks. Some things I tried were a waste of money and some things worked. Eventually she became a good girl in a stall, and I no longer worried that I would get kicked out of whatever barn or show grounds we were boarded at.

Going into Gentry's stall rest I immediately pulled out all the stops that I knew worked, and I hoped that he would be good about the stall. As far as I know, he has never been in a stall in his life. So far, he has been a saint about his stall rest, and I guess I will never know if it is because of my stall rest tricks or if it is his saintly personality. Regardless, I feel like I have gained some excellent knowledge on the topic of maintaining a sane horse on stall rest, and thought I would share my tricks.

How to Survive Stall Rest

Nibble Net

    Nibble Net
This is seriously your best friend and THE MOST effective stall "toy". Keep it full of hay at all times. I feed one flake of hay on the ground at meal times so that the horse can get a quick fix of food, and then put the other 2-3 flakes in the nibble net. That will last until evening feed, when I fill it up again, which will last until morning. I also take this to horse shows when stalled for a weekend

Hanging Salt Lick

    Salt Lick on a Rope
I like to use a hanging Himalayan salt lick on a rope. Not only does it provide them with a salt lick, but it is also an entertaining way to get their salt. Normally I keep this in my trailer tack room and hang it in show stalls when we are boarding for a weekend.

Two's Company

DO NOT lock your horse in a stall in a barn all alone! Horses need company. This is the most sure fire way to guarantee your horse will go bat shit crazy. Just don't do it. Give them an outdoor stall if possible where they can interact with or see other horses and people. Same thing goes if you only have an indoor stall option. This might mean giving them another "stall rest buddy" if all your horses are normally outside 24/7. Misery loves company. Neither horse will be stoked, but neither will go insane either.


Cut off the grain train. Because of their newly inflicted sedentary lifestyle, your performance horse does not need all that grain that they normally eat when on stall rest. A better option than cutting or eliminating grain, is to switch to a ration balancer. This way your horse still gets all the protein and vitamins necessary for healing, but not all the extra calories. In my experience it is the calories that cause grain brain, not protein. Gentry is already on a ration balancer because he's an easy keeper, so there was no change here for him.


Nice thick bedding is really helpful to keeping the horse comfortable standing in it's stall. Because our stall is outside in our run-in shed, I use pelleted bedding. This is great for outside because it doesn't blow away and also decomposed easier in the manure pile (makes better garden mulch than shavings).

Heated Water Tub

16-gallon heated water tub
If you are lucky enough to be doing stall rest in the middle of winter in a northern climate, your horse needs water in a form more palatable than ice. Historically that meant a stock tank and stock tank heater. Stock tank heaters are a pain, mostly because horses love to play with them, chew on them, pull them out, and then let their water freeze over. I did not want to deal with that. That is why we have a heated automatic water in the paddock. Luckily, there have been modern advancements in the field of keeping water liquid. Heated water buckets and tubs. Not having any desire to fill and dump two buckets of water multiple times a day, which would only result in creating more ice on the ground, I went with a 16 gallon heated water tub. It looks like a keg tub, but has a plug and an internal heater that keeps the water from freezing. There is basically nothing for the horse to mess with, aside from the tub itself.  I also only have to fill it once a day. Winner!

Things to Not Bother With

Jolly Ball

    Off-brand "Jolly Ball"...my dog ate the name brand one years ago.
I have yet to witness or have evidence of a horse ever play with this thing (dogs love them though). That is why all these years later it is still in great condition. None-the-less I threw it in Gentry's stall because it was laying around. However, I do not suggest ever buying one for your horse. He hasn't touched it, as expected. Pointless. Waste. Of. Money.

Likit Tongue Twister

Horses do like these, and they are entertained by them briefly. However, I find that they eat the whole darn thing in about one hour. Why they market the thing to last for days is beyond me. Again, waste of money. They also get broken fairly easy by a pissed off horse who ran out of it's likit smack and is stuck in a stall.

In Conclusion or TL;DR

Give your horse an endlessly full nibble net, hanging salt lick, barn buddy, and cut the grain from day one and they should be mostly content during stall rest. For his part Gentry is staying nice and sane, and has not shown any evidence of developing a stall vice. Now it is just a matter of waiting it out and continuing to survive the rest of his stall rest.



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