Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Catching Up and Checking In-Late Summer

I'm on a semi-blogging break right now as I finish projects, tend the horses, prepare for winter and get the kids back to school. I'll be back around a little more when I get everything settled.

Here are some updates:

1.) Red's ear has healed and is doing well now. The biting flies are still out there, however, and continue to bite him in other areas of his body. I was told our local ranch store sold out of fly spray. Although, I don't know how effective the fly spray actually is with these buggars.

2.) Cowboy's head-shaking comes and goes, but is still very much there. His foot is also getting worse. My farrier told me I'd know when it was going down hill because he'd start holding it out more. He holds it out an awful lot now. Soon, it will be time to start considering my options, but not yet.

3.) We got our hay for the winter, beautiful alfalfa. We always store about fifteen tons of alfalfa in the barn because it gives us more for less space. There were a couple of winters that the snow was so bad, we couldn't get round bales delivered. The alfalfa is available in case of an emergency like that and to supplement their grass hay through winter and spring.

A word about alfalfa. I always buy second cutting. Farmers will try to sell me first cutting, but I insist on waiting for second. The first cutting usually has heavier stalks from having to wait for dry spells to harvest it (few and far between in the spring) and it often has mold from being rained on after being cut. The second cutting has more leaf, thinner stalks, less weed, and less moisture.

A testament to the fact that it is, indeed, higher quality, is that the same farmers who tell me they're both just as good (and all the farmers I know do this--I don't fault them since they need to get rid of the first cutting) will raise the prices of their second cutting at least $20 a ton. You can open a bale and see the difference. Stalky alfalfa is little better than straw. Give it to your horses, and they'll give you even further proof of which is better quality. They'll go to the second cutting every time. I will gladly pay the extra $20 a ton for the difference in quality--it's like night and day.

While we finish up our projects around here, I'll be largely AWOL from the blogging world, but know that I am checking in from time to time at your blogs and will be back soon.

Happy Trails.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Jerk Whisperers

This was going around on Facebook. Had to share it for those of you who haven't seen it. Amen!

Monday, August 22, 2011

On the Other Side

Don't you love it when you get on the other side of a big event or crisis. There might be five more staring you down the way, but what a good feeling to get by a couple big ones. For me, those were Red's ears and the BBQ Fundraiser.

After a course of SMZ's, Red's secondary infection in the ear cleared up. I was surprised, though, how long it took for the skin to heal itself. That was one of the more difficult things I've ever had to deal with. Try to doctor a horse's ear when that ear is inflamed and painful. Good luck! Red's about as good as they get, but he didn't want me anywhere near that ear. Every day was spent trying to figure out a way to get up in there and do what I could to give him relief.

Lesson: Work with your horse's ears a lot when they're not injured.

The second big event, the BBQ, was wonderful. It was truly the best slow cooked pork butt and beef brisket I've ever had--bar none. The coach is from Texas and he got up at 3:00 am to start the smoker to slow-cook the meat for the 4:00 pm BBQ. He used real apple tree logs and chips and he'd rubbed the meat a day before with his family's own recipe. Oh my goodness, the first taste he gave us was delightful.

They also had a family recipe for baked beans. I don't usually like baked beans, but I could have eaten a pot full. The same with their cole slaw. They didn't make it until right before the BBQ started, so it was crisp and cold and a bit spicey.

There was a Latin American band there, too, Milonga. They had drums, trumpets, classical guitar, keyboards....it was a large band. They were awesome! I love to watch musicians play together. If you look at their faces you see how much they're enjoying it. Many of their songs were written in Spanish and were very upbeat and fun.

I don't know how much money we made, but for the first time ever doing something like this, I think it was a success no matter what. There were hundreds of people there and they all enjoyed themselves. It really brought the town together. Mission Accomplished.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bella Vita

Never a dull moment at our house. This week has been a wash with the horses--I've been more nurse-maid than trainer-rider, but you know what--that's the reality of life with horses. They're not tools to me--or hobbies--or entertainment--they're part of my family and a way of life. The deal with family is that you take on many different roles with one another. My role this week was back-scratcher, tummy itcher, and militant ear sprayer and mask finder.

I kind of beat myself up about it for a few days...I'm not out there riding them...what kind of owner am I? Then I reminded myself that the last thing they really want is for me to ride them. Riding is my thing, not theirs. At my core, I am a laid back horse owner, but the benefit of this is that I raise laid-back horses.

Part of why I put riding on the back-burner, besides the obvious maladies of the herd, is the upcoming football bbq I'm helping to put together. It's this Saturday in Cheney, WA. It's the first one we've ever done, but hopefully it will continue to be an annual event. There's been a tremendous learning curve, but I think it's going to be a success.

The other reason is that we've started another house project--sunroom (conservatory), deck extension and roof extension. It's something we've wanted to do for a long, long time. Spokane is a cold place to live most of the time, but this room will allow us to be outside anyway...kind of. We're doing all the work ourselves with our boys and yesterday had the foundation poured (picture above).

Bella Vita, and Happy Trails to all of you who are riding right now.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Still Getting Better & Extreme Vacations

Strong mares fear nothing.
Strong stallions fear mares.

Wisdom from Beel & Juanita--It's a Horse Life.

Red's ear is getting better and he went back to his place as #2. The incident shook Shadow up, though, and now he won't let Red anywhere near the herd. Red is so preoccupied with his mares that he won't even eat his grain when I lock him away from them.

There's so much I don't know about what's going on with all them that I can't tell what's instigating it. The bright side is that fatty Shadow is getting into much better shape with all the chasing and worrying. He looks the best he has all summer.

Fetlock brought up an interesting point about Bute and old horses on the last post. If Bute gave Red that much of a new lease on life, it sure is tempting to give it to him more often, but is the risk of injury too great? Is it okay to make a 31 year old horse feel 3 again?

In other news, we just got off what I now refer to as my husband's Extreme Vacation. Almost every day of his vacation we did something we probably shouldn't have--biking, hiking and golfing. We took each of those sports a little further than our ages would recommend we should have (the Bute effect in humans.) I'm battered and severely bruised, but still alive. I won't bore you with the details--you'll just have to take my word for it. I will say, though, sometimes bikes make horses look real safe.

It started like this...

Then this....

I'm such a sucker! I didn't know what was in store for me at the top!

la la la...fun times. Ignorance is still bliss.

Getting higher.

Hmmm...the road is closed? That little trail is for us? My, what big rocks you have. My, what big tree roots you have. My, what steep cliffs you have!!!

I'm going to die!!!!!!

A few hours later (it took us 2 hours to get off the mountain) we saluted our precious, dear, wonderful lives.

And, I won a book! I never win blog contests, but apparently, I did this time. I won, Cutter, by Laura Crum. As soon as I get it, I'll read it and let you know how it is.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Old Red: 31 Going on Three

Red's ears are, apparently, on the mend. He's on an antibiotic and Bute and feeling good. Too good.

Last night I let him out with the herd and he challenged Shadow, the leader. He acted like a three year old stallion in the wild who was stealing mares. He reared up, turned and kicked, screamed at him--lunged to bite.

They were back and forth quite a bit. At one point Shadow even fell backwards. We were stunned and didn't know what to do. These two geldings have NEVER fought. Red has never challenged him. He's always been happy at #2. Not last night.

The drama took place over our whole back acreage. Red was running, yes running, and Shadow was running, too. Cowboy and Cia stood away, not knowing which side to take. But Red's new vigor emboldened his mare-wife, Cowgirl, and their adopted baby, Beautiful Girl. Cowgirl started to lunge at Shadow, too. He'd try to get control and run them to the corner, and Red would look like he was giving in, but then the two mares would steal their way back to him and provoke Shadow to attack Red again...and Red would fight back.

To end it, Beautiful Girl got in between the geldings and took a vicious kick at Shadow, butt to butt. I was really surprised at Beautiful Girl's brazenness taking on the herd leader like that. She is nothing if not loyal.

Shadow was scared and ran into an open stall and faced off from a more safe space. I took the opportunity to lock him in and then gathered the rest of the crazy herd and locked them in, too.

Red was snorting, prancing and pawing.

We had to leave town today, so I left them in their stalls. I want to be home when they're released again so that I can monitor it. If the civil war continues, someone could really get hurt. I'm hoping Red remembers he's OLD and takes his rightful place as second in command. The mares will ALWAYS gravitate to him, but Shadow just needs to know he's in control when the time comes. And, honestly, Shadow should be in control. The herd works best that way.

I found out, too, that the black flies we have are Buffalo Gnats. They're still gathering around the stalls at dawn and dusk. All of the horses have masks and ears, but it's a battle. Apparently, because of Spokane's wet spring, they've been exceptionally bad this year. Some other horse people have had them much, much worse than I do.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Graphic Picture & Update

Blogger always broadcasts your first image in the newsreels, so I put a picture of lilies at the top to keep the next picture from showing up for those who don't want to see it.

Did I say that I hate meat-eating flies? Where have I been that I didn't know there was such a thing? It's our fault. Since we fixed all the automatic waterers and brought in dry dirt all of the blood-suckers have been gone...which makes me feel really bad we didn't do that before they got to Red's ears.

I went out for his daily morning inspection and he'd kept his mask on and over his ears. After taking it off, however, it was immediately clear he'd been scratching them against something. He'd rubbed off the scabs and there was some swelling around the tips from the trauma. Of course, he won't let me touch them. The good thing, there were NO flies on it.

My husband washed his mask and set it out to air dry while I did the best I could to spray him with an aerosol antibiotic. While the mask was air-drying I let his ear air-dry, too. While the barn was open there were no stable flies anywhere to be seen and in the hour I sat with Red not one fly alighted on his wounds. The problem with this, however, is that if I leave the breezeways open, coyotes come in and kill our cats. In the chain of what's more important, Red's ear is certaintly more important, but I'm hoping to strike a compromise between having our barn kittens killed and healing him.

My hope is that the mask allows enough air to pass that the open areas can rescab for him. But I'm thinking I'm going to go out several times a day to open the barn and take off his mask and let the ear have some full exposure...just to be safe.

Cowboy did not have any of this. He only had the belly rubbing, no open sores. All the horses had the little flies going in and out of their ears when this was all at its worst, five days ago. Now, no flies in any of the ears. I don't think this will solve Cowboy's head shaking because that happened at times when there were no signs of black flies, but I do think the severe episode I saw last week had something to do with black flies. I'm comforted knowing that is not his new baseline and I probably don't have to worry about it ever being that bad again. I can handle a little head-shaking on the trail and, when it's at its normal level, a fly mask does cure about 95 percent of it. (Maybe he's just oversensitive to bugs?)

I received my latest shipment of fly predators a few days ago and in it was an insert that talked about how to get rid of the "last" fly. One thing they recommended is killing the adult flies. Fly predators only kill emerging ones. Also, it doesn't appear they kill black flies at all, but they do sell a trap specifically for black flies. I don't think that's our problem anymore, but I DO want to kill the adult stable flies. While we're out there today we're going to hang new traps.

Death to flies!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Scabs and Blood

I don't know what type of fly I'm dealing with out there, but the removal of the standing water certainly helped get rid of them. Unfortunately, their damage was already done with Old Red.

In my post the other day I said that Red was bobbing his head, so I went out to look and there were little flies in his ears. I could tell that there was scabbing and crusting going on in there, but he wouldn't let me get my fingers in. I had to do the best I could to doctor it up and put some repellent around the area, and then I put a fly mask with ears on him.

The next day he'd itched off the fly mask, but the flies were gone. In their place, there was a lot of scabbing and irritation and the hair on the inner ear was largely removed.

Today he'd itched off his mask again. There was a large scab he'd itched off in one ear that showed exposed skin. The other ear looks like it's healing pretty well--scabby, but no blood. He will not let me apply ointments to them. I could barely get his mask back on. I decided to lock him in and feed him in the dark stall, which seemed to make him pretty happy.

The removal of the standing water seems to have ridded us of the pesty small flies that were biting on the horses. Were they black flies? Here is a description.

•Black flies (Simuliidae) are small in size (approximately 2mm-5mm) and breed in rapidly moving water. High-risk times are dawn and dusk during spring and early summer, when stabling may be helpful.

These flies commonly feed around the face – particularly inside the ears, where they trigger allergic skin reactions to their saliva, and distract the horse – but also on the horse's neck and underside. Bites form as painful lumps, often with pin-prick areas of bleeding and crusting.

Synthetic pyrethroid fly sprays can act as a deterrent, although physical barriers such as ear nets and oil-based products – oil of citronella, for example – will discourage these flies from landing on the horse. Petroleum jelly (Vaseline) applied inside the ears may prevent the insects biting.

Cowboy's itching has stopped, as far as I can tell. He had some flies in his ears the other day, too, but no scabbing. So, whatever these were, they were definitely attacking the ears.

Cowboy has also stopped his head bobbing and dragging. He's been in constant turn-out since I released him four or five days ago. Is it possible that the flies got into his nasal passage? Could that even happen? That would confirm what some of you said about having a "bug up his nose."

In any case, he's doing very well, but I'm going to keep a close watch on Red's ears. I'll try to get a picture of it when I go to check on him again.

This is all new for me. I've NEVER had this problem before. We've never had an issue with biting flies until now. Red is over 30...does that make him more susceptible?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sweet Itch

Cowboy's story just gets more and more complicated. For the last week, since his severe HSS episode, he has wanted to be in his stall. I'd let him out at night, sometimes force him out against his will, but by morning with the early sun, the head shaking would have already resumed. (This was suspicious to me since the sun had only been out for an hour or less).

Yesterday I went out and he was antsy, for the first time, to get OUT of his stall. I switched out his fly mask for a much thicker one and figured I'd give him a try. Off he went! He ran out of there as happy as I'd seen him in a LONG time.

My husband and I set out on the deck and watched him all evening. And what did we see? Intense belly rubbing. I'd seen it a couple times before during the week, but this was just crazy belly itching...dragging his belly along the ground. Sweet itch?

Let's see, it is caused by an allergy to the saliva of Culicoides midges (small flies)...we have a lot of flies in the pasture where the neighbor's huge herd lives, but few in the barn because of fly predators we release...Cowboy prefers the barn. I have seen lots of "small flies" on the horses lately. CHECK. Sweet itch is sometimes brought on by stressful injuries, Cowboy's arthritis has been getting worse. CHECK. Sweet itch can cause head shaking. CHECK. Sweet itch can be considered a debilitating condition that makes a horse unsound. CHECK. Sweet itch can change the personality of your horse. CHECK. The first signs of Sweet Itch usually show up in Autumn, Cowboy's started last fall. Check. The flies are at their worst in early morning and dusk, Cowboy was head-tossing in the early mornings. Check.

Questions I have: Why wasn't there belly rubbing before this? Now that I think of it, there was some tail rubbing. Was that sweet itch? And, why was he striking at his face? Why did sun seem to aggravate it? Were the flies worse on the day he had the incident? There was a lot of standing water at that time because of an malfunctioned automatic waterer. I guess Culicoides breed in standing water.

The mystery is definitely deepening, but each day yields more information. There are still a couple things that are not entirely explained by this so I'll continue to look for answers. Until I know, I'm not taking Cowboy out on the trails. We'll be riding around here and I'll be finishing the training of my fillies. My friends are going to come by and "spot" me (be around to jump in and help if needed).

Here are some suggestions I found for helping Sweet Itch.

--Apply fly spray every day or throughout the day. Regular fly spray may not be affective so look for DEET in the ingredients. I'm putting OFF on my finger and rubbing it into the ear as they'll allow me to.
-Use fly sheets that tie around the belly.
-Add cider vinegar to the horse's feed.
-Apply small amounts of Avon's Skin So Soft bath oil to the most vulnerable areas.
-Apply menthol products, such as Vick's VapoRub or a cheaper generic version, to susceptible areas.
-Feed the horse about 2 tablespoons of garlic powder two times a day to make his sweat smell garlicky and repel the flies.
-Braid Bounce or another brand of scented dryer sheets into the horse's mane and tail, and rub them over the horse.
--Apply SWAT to the belly.
--Keep the barn area dry and as free from flies as you possibly can.

Look at these pictures..it's Beautiful three years ago. I posted about it. Click here. I think, looking back at the stress she was under being wild and in a new home, it was a case of sweet itch. She hasn't shown signs of it since then.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Head Shaking Syndrome: Part II Symptoms & Answers to My Questions

I have to thank Kate at A Year With Horses for telling me about HSS when Cowboy first started showing symptoms. She hit it right on the head. Anyone who reads her blog knows she's a wealth of information about horses--physical, mental, and behavioral--the whole gamut.

When I had a context to put the head-shaking into, many things became clear and, as time passes, I begin to recall other things as well. Were these early indications of photic head shaking? I don't know. But I do want to write about them here, so anyone else whose horse exhibits HSS symptoms can compare.

Here are the questions and answers from yesterday's post:

1. What are the outward signs he has shown?

Vertical head bobbing, head dragging the ground, avoidance of sun, striking at his nose, rubbing his nose, distorted vision, frustration, fear, anger, excessive yawning.

2. When did they start? Were there any early signs I may have overlooked?

When I got Cowboy, eight years ago, he had several issues. One was that he hated being bridled. It took me a week with a trainer to get a bridle on him. When I consulted his previous owner she said she'd had the same difficulty at first. Once he gave in to bridling, I didn't have the issue again. The second problem I had was that he was head shy. Anytime I'd raise my hand he'd pull away like I was going to hit him. I just assumed he'd been badly abused by a previous owner. The third thing was that he had issues with water. He seemed to have depth perception problems and would get very fearful. Before I got him, his owner told me he'd refuse to cross the pasture stream even when the whole herd was on the other side.

Were these early signs of a propensity toward HSS? I don't know, but I see them differently now.

As for the first obvious signs they started last year at the end of the season. There was a field we'd cross at the end of rides--it was quite bright and open. He'd start the vertical head bobbing as we entered it and until we exited. He did light vertical bobbing in the pasture. The first ride this season (spring '11) it had magnified 10X worse. When I introduced the riding mask, there was about a 95 percent improvement. The other day when the sun became very intense and he lost his fly mask, he had his worst episode ever and now wants to be in the dark stall.

There's also the issue of the broken P3 (coffin bone) with arthritis in the coffin joint. We took xrays at the vet check. Is it possible that pain from the coffin joint is a stresser as well?

3. How did the symptoms progress?

Answered above.

4. Were teeth, nose and ear issues ruled out?

Yes, by a vet check.

5. When was he last vaccinated?

His last vaccination was end-summer last year before the first onset of the head-bobbing. I hope it didn't have anything to do with that.

6. What things give him relief?

The only things right now are the semi-dark stall and fly mask. I'm going to try out his nose net next time we ride around the property. I'm not going to trailer him away right now.

7. What things make him worse?

Sunlight and stress.

8. How have I ruled out behavioral issues?

It happens in his turnout when he's not being asked to do anything.

9. What is his pain or discomfort level on a scale of 0 to 5?

In sunlight with no stress, 3. In the stall, 0.

10. Is he safe to handle?

Not when he's at a 4-5, but he's fine being led from stall to stall and handled in the stall.

I do feel the pressure now to finish training Beautiful Girl and Cia. I need a trail horse. Before it was like I was playing at training, now it's a bit more serious. I'm lucky to have them out there. They're keeping me connected to horsemanship at a time when I might otherwise have walked away.

I have mixed emotions about starting over. Cowboy was never a perfect horse...far from it. He was difficult at times, suspicious, reactive, but after eight years of riding together I developed a deep love for him, problems and all. There was a comfort in our relationship. Now I'm going to be starting at the beginning again on green horses. I know that this will probably be an exciting part of my life, but there is just a little bit of me that is also nervous and, of course, there's that part of me that's very sad to be leaving my partner, Cowboy, behind. It's the closing of a chapter I wasn't quite ready to close. Would I ever have been?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Head Shaking Syndrome: Part 1 Trigeminal Nerve

Trigeminal nerve:

The term "trigeminal" comes from the Latin "trigeminus" meaning "threefold," referring to the three divisions (ophthalmic, maxillary and mandibular) of this nerve.

The trigeminal nerve functions both as the chief nerve of sensation for the face and the motor nerve controlling the muscles of mastication (chewing).

In an effort to understand what my horse is going through I'm both studying HSS and journaling Cowboy's progress and symptoms. Veterinarians have a hard time diagnosing and treating this problem because of its many varieties and possible causes. I think I've narrowed Cowboy's down to photic issues--intense sun and heat trigger, but I want to know as much about it as I can in order to figure out the best way to help him.

My first question was--what is the Trigeminal Nerve and Equine Trigeminal Neuralgia. I have to understand this to know what I'm seeing with Cowboy.

I came across a wonderful site devoted to bitless riding that discussed this nerve and how the use of bits can affect it and possibly cause HSS. Horse and Human Bitless Training and Barefoot Trimming. They wrote this about the three areas the Trigeminal Nerve can affect:

Ophthalmic branch

The ophthalmic branch of the trigeminal nerve supplies nerves to parts of the eye [the cornea, ciliary body, lacrimal gland and conjuctiva], to parts of the mucous membrane of the nasal cavity and to the skin of the eyelids, eyebrows, forehead and nose

Maxillary branch

The maxillary branch of the trigeminal nerve supplies nerves to the lower eyelid, nose, upper lip and side of the face

Mandibular branch

The mandibular branch of the trigeminal nerve supplies nerves to the mucous membranes of two thirds of the tongue, teeth and gums, skin of the temporal region, lower lip and chin, the muscles used to chew, and to some parts of the ear.

The symptoms I've seen in Cowboy today are: 1. Relief of symptoms when removed from sun, 2. Excessive yawning, 3. Hanging his head to the ground in the sun, 4. Vertical head-bobbing when standing in sun.

What I've noticed before is possible vision impairment--not blindness, but maybe some sort of distortion.

It's interesting that this also occurs in humans. Here are sketches of the human face and the Trigeminal Nerve.

Humans have reported intense pain, suicidal thoughts and double-vision.

There is a possibility that sunshine irritates Cowboy's Trigeminal nerve and causes a stinging all along the inside of his nose. Yawning and chewing might relieve some of the itchiness and discomfort.

Here are the questions I've asked myself.

1. What are the outward signs he has shown?
2. When did they start? Were there any early signs I may have overlooked?
3. How did the symptoms progress?
4. Were teeth, nose and ear issues ruled out?
5. When was he last vaccinated?
6. What things give him relief?
7. What things make him worse?
8. How have I ruled out behavioral issues?
9. What is his pain or discomfort level on a scale of 1 to 5?
10. Is he safe to handle?

I'll explain why these are important questions in Part II.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

And, I'm UP!

Plan B.

So, my ponying horse is convalescing and has gone back to kindergarten. What was I to do?

Plan B: Jump up and down around her, in and out of the stirrup then up on top.

My first day on Beautiful Girl (trying to keep up with Lea who's leaving me in the dust!) and it was so darn peaceful. I don't know who's being trained, me or her. (Most likely, me.)

A Glorious Day at the Farm

Does this look like a happier horse? Part of the morning routine is now taking Nocturnal Cowboy off pasture and getting him into his cozy, dark stall for the day. He'd lost his fly mask with the ears (again), so I switched it out for his earless version and then set out on a little mini-excursion around the farm to find said fly mask with ears. I took my camera.

This is what I discovered....

First, Grass. Yay, glorious grass. It used to be a weed patch, but we have successfully converted it to 100 percent green old, hearty old, grass!

Riagan in the grass...

Maggie in the grass...

more grass...

Our grass project at the neighbor's...also becoming successful...

Hubby at his gate...

Healthy, fat horses....

My beautiful Beautiful...

The herd...


All is not right in the world. I had some bad news last night that has made me very sad (non-horse related), but has made me think it all the more important to celebrate the moments we have with the people and animals we love. Life is not made-to-order perfect, but there are many small things to take joy in.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

An Evening Ride

I'm a little more positive. Went out for an evening ride on Cowboy and there wasn't much head-shaking and no stomping at his face. I exchanged his fly mask for the one with ears, too. All of it seemed to help.

The other suggestion for this syndrome is night-time turnout and stall during the day. After our ride and a little grooming session, I released him to pasture and that's where he is now.

There is an issue--physical problems creating behavior problems and knowing which is which. Tonight he pulled back again when I approached him with a brush...a little brush. I had to saddle him in the round pen. I just couldn't let that be it and teach him that pulling back is okay. I figured I'd better head back to the trailer afterward and loose "tie" him (rope braided through the ring, but not tied) and present him with lots of goodies from the trailer. He was much better after a while. I sat and he stood and relaxed and we spent a good deal of time like that until he went half to sleep in the "tied" position.

I feel like I'm starting again with him in some ways, trying to figure our way as we go, but I saw a little bit of the old Cowboy tonight--not entirely back--but getting there, I hope.

The Day After the Head-Shaking Incident

I'm feeling pretty sorry for myself today--not just about the head-shaking, but other things as well. I was thinking today, or wondering, if there would be a point at which I would walk away from horses. I've had friends who have done that. Sold the whole kit and kaboodle and walked.

Then, I look out my window and see all the other horses and it makes me want to cry. Maybe I'm just hormonal. Pre-menopausily moody.

Or, maybe it's just Cowboy. When he broke his P3 I got very discouraged. It was the not knowing. The vets (yes, two) misdiagnosed it for three months. That was five years ago. Then, while he was recuperating and we didn't know if he'd ever be sound, his twin nephew, the colt I'd raised and trained, coliced and DIED. Yep, that was one of the moments I felt like walking.

Instead, I got Beautiful Girl. I guess that's why I feel like crying when I look out the window and see her. It's like, Oh my god, what if something happens to HER? I kind of got myself in it for the long-haul here with all my horses. With things going wrong with Cowboy it makes me feel like things are wrong with everything.

So, it probably wasn't a good day for me to go out and seek donations for our association's bbq. I took the few rejections I got pretty personal. And the way they talk to you when they hear you're asking for a donation...don't they understand we're parent volunteers? We're their customers, for god's sake! One hotel that I LOVED (before today) that I recommended all my family stay at, that we've stayed at, that we eat out at, that we even have a book about on our mantle--flat out said NO. I don't understand it. It's good advertising for them, if nothing else. That's a pretty cheap way to reach over 1000 people. A one night stay in a room that would probably be empty anyway? Come on!

Or, maybe I brought the "no" on by some kind of negative lice or flea vibe that jumped off of me and onto them. Like, The Secret, I sent out some kind of bad karma today. If I'd asked them if I could have donated a free room to THEM, they probably would have still said no.

Anyway, it wasn't a good day and I am feeling sorry for myself. But, after Cowboy's dinner, I'm going to muster up a little confidence and walk him back out and see what happens.

Thank you for all your support today. I kind of feel sorry I drug you all into the sadness and uncertainty that is...Head-shaking Syndrome. Blah! It sounds like a made-up disease.

I filmed him eating dinner today so that you can see the difference and why I am so frustrated.

Negativity stinks.

A Heart-Breaking, Disturbing Day

A serious issue emerged yesterday which kept me from ponying Beautiful. It started when I got Cowboy and went to saddle him. When I lifted the saddle towards him he panicked a bit like he didn't know what it was and pulled back. He did this before with fly spray before a ride, but he's never done it with a saddle. Last week one of my stirrups fell off and when I went around to the side where I needed to reattach it, he got the same look in his eye.

I decided to work him in the round pen to see what was going on and he started doing all this head-shaking and stamping and rubbing of his nose on his foot. He couldn't even think properly--which made him dangerous. I asked my husband to film some of it. My husband thought it was all behavioral--which, in some ways, is true. First, he gets the tickling or whatever is happening in the nose, and then he wants to charge back to the herd for safety. He seems unsure of what's happening to him and very frustrated by it.

I worked with him for over two hours and by the time we were done--in the heat of day--he wasn't doing it as much, but there was still the occasional rubbing of the nose and frustration while I was in the saddle.

I decided to separate him from the herd and put him back in a stall to observe him. He stayed in the barn all day, seeming to want to be away from the sun. His personality returned back to normal.

I'm going to go out again today to work with him. The pulling back is really strange because it seems like he doesn't really see what's coming at him. The head-shaking, stamping reminds me of a horse who has been stung by a bee or has a horse-fly stuck to him--this mindless trying to escape.

I just observed him, moments ago, in his run and he was doing the same thing, but on a more minor scale--bobbing his head and rubbing it against his leg. The whole thing is very disturbing. I'm going to let my vet see the footage below so she can get a better idea of what I'm talking about. If anyone out there has any ideas, you're welcome to share them. It makes me heart-sick to see my normally sweet horse like this.

http://headshakingsyndrome.com/criteria.html This is hallmark head-shaking syndrome with the vertical, involuntary head-tossing and the striking at his nose and trying to escape the pain. I would say he was a 5-6 on their scale.

Monday, August 1, 2011

It's Already August

These pictures are from my recent trail ride.

It feels like summer just started and here we are already at August. Got to get an early move-on in order to beat the heat.

Busy day today ponying BG, but first off I need to walk the pastures and find Cowboy's fly mask. I'm excited to try out those new Cash riding jeans.

More later...