Well, just when everything is finally going good…the pony recovering from her tendon injury down at summer pasture with the two buckskins, and the older mares at home being used for weekly riding lessons…disaster strikes. Sunday we were at the farm after lunch, planning to work on rebuilding a fence, and so while we were there I went to let the mares out to graze. They ran out through the gate and into the grassy yard, and I noticed that Cricket went right to eating, but Daisy laid down and rolled. This seemed strange, and we usually watch them for abnormal rolling, which indicates stomach pain associated with colic. But I knew it couldn’t be colic, since they were just now being turned out on grass.
It’s always something. This time, it’s our twenty-three-year-old horse Red, who has developed severe allergies and has what is called “heaves” in horses, or COPD in humans. The symptoms are a deep cough, difficulty breathing so you see his sides “heave” in and out with each breath (hence, the name “heaves”), lack of appetite or interest in eating, which contributes to weight loss, and lethargy. It’s been less than six months since Red came to live with us, and he was such a lively, spooky, fat, healthy horse that it is really sad to see him in his current condition.
Read up on Penny’s pastern injury! I kept Penny in a stall for a month, doctoring her wound daily and trying to keep it as clean as possible. Every day I would clean the wound with Vetericyn spray, then cut a section of cotton padding, slather it with Nitrofurazone ointment, place it over the cut area, and wrap it with vet wrap. I cannot believe how well the wound has healed, and how she is almost back to full movement in a little over a month.
I haven’t had the best luck with my horses this winter. I went out Monday morning (a week ago) to feed, and saw Penny standing out by the hay feeder alone. All the other horses were inside their run-in shed, as it was a cold morning with high winds and blowing snow. I didn’t think too much about it, until I got out of the pickup and heard her whinny. I thought to myself, “I have never heard Penny whinny before.”
I lost my horse Rudy on the 3rd of January. He was almost twenty-eight years old, and ever since he came to live with us in October, I have worried about him. I knew he wasn’t going to live forever, but I had hoped for a few more years, especially now that we were reunited. I had mentally prepared myself for being with him during his last days, but it’s still such a sad reality that even the very best ones die.
We spent last Saturday, as we do most weekends, out at the farm. The horses are turned out to graze the green grass in the farmyard while my husband and I work in the garden and our kids play with the kittens and ride bikes and such. My brother in law and his wife had planned to go to the city for the day, so they left their three year old daughter and six month old baby with us. We were getting along well and having an enjoyable afternoon until I looked over at the group of horses and noticed Daisy just standing there, not eating. I immediately thought, “She’s colicking.” And I turned out to be right.
Usually my horse maintenance plan goes something like this: pitching hay morning and night and making sure they’re all walking on four legs. But sometimes horses require more than that. We had the vet come out the other day, to castrate our buckskin yearling stallion and check on his mother’s health. Both of the buckskins have lost body condition in the year that we have owned them, and we wanted to get a professional evalution from a veterinarian on how to counteract that. We weren’t sure if it was a tooth problem or lack of adequate nutrition for the mare, and the colt needed gelded and is looking a little bony as well.
Snow is coming! The kids are excited with the prospects of sipping hot cocoa, listening to Christmas music, and watching the heavens swirl their magical crystals into sparkling drifts over our front steps. I’m not looking forward to doing chores in subzero temperatures, no matter how pretty the snow is. When the water tanks freeze over and I can’t peel the layers of frost-covered hay off of my big round bales to feed my horses, winter isn’t fun anymore. If only we could enjoy the snow without it being so cold…..
One of the things every horse owner should consider is the fact that horses don’t live forever, nor do they stay rideable forever. It might seem overly simple to state it in that fashion, but we really don’t like to think about horses getting old, getting hurt, or dying. Our imaginations enable us to envision the Black Stallion living in endless glory…and even though we understand the old gray mare “ain’t what she used to be”, we like to pretend that she is still quite comfortable and able. The truth is far uglier at times, and a responsible horse owner will understand and plan ahead of time. What should you do when your horse is too old to be useful? What are the options for owners of aged equines?
Here in the midwest things are changing. It’s unbelievable what a week’s worth of rain can do for the dried up roots of winter….everything in Iowa is magically green! Our horses are anxiously awaiting turnout, greeting me with whinnies whenever I appear. I love watching them canter out to graze, usually bucking or tossing their […]
These colder winter days make everything harder. My barn chores take twice as long; I have to dress up in heavy warm clothes that I hate, scarf, hat, gloves, and snow boots; the hay is harder to unwrap from the bale, the wind whips all the particles back into your face as you pitch it, the ice and snow make it difficult to carry grain to each paddock; and the water needs checked often to make sure it’s not frozen, etc….
I read a lot of horse magazines, and they’re always full of good ideas for my horses. Growing up on a horse ranch, you would think a girl would know pretty much everything about horse care simply from association. But if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that things are constantly changing and there’s always something new to learn. So I thought I’d pass along a few of the winter horse care tips I’ve been reading about.
My good mare Daisy got a wire cut last week. Not the worst I’ve ever seen, but definitely not something to be taken lightly. We set up a pen for her to keep her out of the mud and cleaned her up the best we could.
Rain rot is a fungal disease in horses, resulting in raised bumps over the horse’s hide and causing sores and hair loss. Read more to learn of the best way to treat and prevent rain rot in horses.