Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘farrier

Confidently Incorrect

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It was a simple mistake. It could happen to anyone. They look so much alike.

The farrier appointment was scheduled for 1:15 yesterday afternoon and I had gates closed and halters on all the horses by 1:08. She showed up on time and I was ready to hold horses while she trims and files hooves.

However, at the very same time, a very large pickup pulled up, and a person from the cable installation company hopped out with flags in his hand to mark the route for burying fiber cable up to our house.

I excused myself briefly from the barn and talked fiber route as I walked the guy up to our house, pointing out the buried hazards that must be taken into account.

As soon as I could, I returned to the paddocks to find the farrier trying to deal with Mix, who had allowed only one hoof to be trimmed before deciding the flies were too annoying for her to remain standing still. A little fly spray on the legs and my hands on the lead rope allowed Heather to get on with trimming Mix’s other three hooves.

Next was Swings and everything went flawlessly for her turn. Meanwhile, two staff from This Old Horse arrived to provide additional support. While holding horses, I noticed one car was coming up our driveway as the cable guy was driving his truck out and they each decided to drop one wheel over the steep edges to pass one another. Not the way I’d have solved it, but it avoided either one needing to back up. (Backing up is what I would have done.)

I’m feeling increasing pressure to have the driveway shoulders sloped by the excavating company that raised the base so high in the first place. But that’s another issue.

As the trimming progressed, I was still holding horses for the farrier, now working on number three of four. That’s where I screwed up. Somehow I mistook Mia for Light. They are both very similar-looking chestnuts with the main difference being their blaze.

I thought I was holding Light, who usually stresses out over the trimming process. Heather and I were so impressed it was going as well as it was. Of course, she had no clue who she was working on and was relying on me to identify them. Then came time for me to get the last horse, who I mistaking still thought was Mia.

She did not want to come up under the overhang. Sometimes Mia can be like that so the behavior supported my confusion. But it was Light and she really did not want to stand and have her hooves worked on. I got subbed out to let Tom from This Old Horse hold Light and I went to calm Mia (still thinking it was Light) who had been removed from the workspace and was temporarily trapped between paddocks.

Are you following all this?

At this point of the increasing panicking by Light, I figured out my mistake. It’s funny, I first noticed the name on a halter and assumed I put the wrong halters on each of the two. Then I took a closer look and realized the halters were correct, I was completely convinced which horse was which for the longest time, but I had been confidently incorrect.

I blame the distraction of simultaneous demands on my attention from the fiber cable installation guy and horse duty. Oh, and the fact my lovely wife wasn’t present to catch my goof and correct the identifications.

We eventually gave up on trimming Light this session. I feel bad because we probably would have handled it better if we all knew precisely which of the two chestnuts were being trimmed at the time.

My mistake. A rather humbling misidentification.

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Written by johnwhays

September 13, 2022 at 6:00 am

Foot Work

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With a fresh glaze of wet snow covering the ground and mud reaching its peak on the trails and in the paddocks, yesterday the horses had an appointment with their farrier. Convincing the horses that they should accept a halter for a few hours even though they weren’t particularly interested in doing so became a challenging dance of slippery, muddy footsteps.

With the added help from two representatives of the rescue organization, This Old Horse, the process went just fine and the herd is good for another 8 weeks.

We already had the herd separated between the two paddocks so Cyndie just had to occupy one horse while another was getting trimmed.

The last few times these four horses have been trimmed, Light was the least cooperative about standing on three feet and only received partial service. Yesterday, she didn’t relax entirely, but she did hang in there long enough for the farrier to complete all four hooves.

I’d say they all look really great now, except for the fact it’s hard to notice because their feet are submerged in mud most of the time.

When we are done at the barn and ready to head back up to the house, it’s time for the boots on our feet to get some attention. The residual piles of plowed snow provide the perfect boot scrubber.

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Too bad the snow is disappearing so fast now that these few remaining piles will be gone long before the mud is.

The boot scrubbing brush outside our front door is an alternative, but it doesn’t work nearly as well as the old snow.

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Written by johnwhays

March 24, 2022 at 6:00 am

Minor Trim

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The mares received a visit from the farrier yesterday and got their feets fixed. They are all standing on good footing now. Like the previous time the new farrier, Heather, was here to work on our girls, Light got a little too upset to tolerate the attention.

As a result, they made a point of starting with Light first. She wasn’t much better this time, either. Next visit, Tom is going to remember to bring a little something to calm her nerves before they start.

The other three horses stood reasonably well and allowed Heather to finish what she started on each.

Here is Tom holding Swings while Heather capably plies her trade. While the horses mostly stood in place well, none of them were all that relaxed about having their legs picked up.

I think I’d rather toss 250 bales of hay for my workout than repeatedly hold up a resistant Thoroughbred mare’s leg while trying to file it.

We had closed all the gates and put halters on the horses at the start of the day in anticipation of the scheduled hoof trimming appointment. As soon as each one is done, they get freed from the halter and sent on their way.

The two chestnuts walked down to the still closed gate to the hayfield and held vigil until I showed up to open it.

I was waiting until Mix and Swings were done so as not to create any distractions while work was still in progress.

Of course, when I finally showed up and opened the gate, neither horse walked through. They turned and followed me to the next gate and the one after that. I guess they just wanted to make sure I got everything back the way they like it, so that later when they really want to get out in the fields, they will be able.

Kids. [shaking my head]

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Written by johnwhays

January 18, 2022 at 7:00 am

New Family

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Since the day our friends George and Anneliese moved out to a new home they built in Princeton, MN, our basement “apartment” has been mostly unoccupied. Meanwhile, we have been searching for new sitters to care for our animals and house (needing to replace the services of both McKenna and Shelby, who have each moved away to their next life opportunities) to provide cover for times we escape to the lake place or embark on other exotic travels.

Cyndie advertised our search in two primary locations: our veterinary office in Stillwater, and the University of WI, River Falls Ag programs.

I did occasional scans of Craig’s List for pet sitters, and thought I struck gold when a perfect sounding post showed up just an hour prior to one of my visits. She didn’t want to travel very far, though, and told us we were out of her Hudson, WI range of service.

Then Jackie called. She was in school at River Falls and was hoping to find a room for the summer. Jackie has the horse skills we required and boards her own horse just six miles to the east, in El Paso, WI.

In a cosmic twist we never saw coming, when she stopped by to meet us the very first time, Cyndie recognized her date who got out of the car with her. Marcus is the new farrier who has been caring for our horses in the time since George moved.

When Jackie mentioned to Marcus that she was going to visit Beldenville to meet Cyndie, he responded that he knew a Cyndie in Beldenville. They quickly realized she was the same person, and Marcus came along for the introduction.

Some wonderful synchronicity there.

Cyndie and Jackie worked out terms and a rough schedule, and now we have a new housemate added to our cast of characters.

It has been rewarding to watch Delilah and Jackie’s relationship develop as they spend more time together.

In a very short number of days, Jackie has become the latest new member of our ever-expanding family. It’s a bonus that Marcus knows her, too.

We feel lucky to have met them both, and to have their help caring for our horses. And, in Jackie’s case, our home and other animals, too!

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Written by johnwhays

May 23, 2018 at 6:00 am

The Diet

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Not that we want to compound the misery we put our horses through, but the weeks of indoor confinement they just endured have come with the added insult of decreased rations. If protecting them from the ravages of founder (laminitis) means we need to closely control what our horses are consuming, we need to do it regardless of how unhappy they act over the situation.

I am certain that the reason Cayenne was prancing around snorting when I freed her from the confines of her stall on Saturday was because she had grown so agitated over the lack of anything to eat in her “cell.” She had made that clear with the kicking of the wall and pawing at the floor when I showed up to greet the farrier and get Hunter some padded shoes.

The precisely measured portions I had meted out at noon were ancient history and she wanted more. Luckily, she settled down a little bit while Hunter was brought out of his stall to stand between both mares and be fitted.

Later, after the three horses were done thrashing around outside in the paddock, they settled down and took up stations over the hay boxes, where bonus servings had been made available to augment their celebration over the return to the great outdoors.

Now, even though it was a bonus offering, it was still a precisely measured meager portion of a bonus.

It didn’t take them long to show their feelings about the restrictions of this new diet still being in place, even though they have been released from confinement in the barn.

Yesterday, I spotted them grazing on the winter manure pile inside their fence line. It seems there have been a few morsels of hay raked up with the manure.

Cyndie fretted the other day that feeding our animals (and I might add, her family and guests) is one of the ways she shows her love. For the record, she loves me a LOT. It breaks her heart to see the horses stoop to digging through the manure pile for blades of grass.

I’m sure it’s not the first time a restrictive diet has brought on behaviors for which pride gets tossed aside.

In reality, they aren’t really that desperate. They were just checking out the pile for a brief few seconds. I thought it looked funny and snapped the photo. It makes for good story!

The diet is for real, and their adjustment to it is going to take some time, but we are optimistic a new balance will emerge and we will be back on a path to optimal health, soon.

Soon, in a relative sense of the word.

 

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Written by johnwhays

March 12, 2018 at 6:00 am

He’s Out!

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It started back in January with a two-week prescription from the vet for Hunter to be confined to his stall as part of a treatment regimen to address symptoms of laminitis. In the days following Legacy’s death, the three surviving horses were visibly distressed over the abrupt departure of their herd leader. Hunter’s stress manifested in an inflammation in his hooves.

After two weeks of limited improvement, the order was extended another two weeks. After that, a plan to have a farrier see Hunter added more time due to schedule conflicts and our weekend away to Florida. When a new farrier was finally able to come, the result was to take pressure off Hunter’s front hooves with reverse shoes, but keep him in the stall for another two weeks.

Yesterday, it was a relief to hear the farrier, Marcus, report Hunter looked to be moving much better. Hunter is still showing clear tentativeness when turning, but Marcus said the inflammation seems much less, and Hunter’s feet aren’t overly warm.

Marcus added a leather pad to the front hooves and Hunter was granted a chance to step out into the paddock for a much-needed break from confinement.

It was quite a scene to witness. Hunter was so thrilled to be out he even leapt into the air and kicked before heading down the slope to roll in the snow.

I was busy bringing Cayenne and Dezirea out for their own break from the stressful extended weeks indoors keeping Hunter company when Marcus reported Hunter looked good getting back up on his feet with ease after his roll. Every affirmation was so soothing to hear.

The stressful struggles our horses endure become stresses that weigh extremely heavily on us.

Cayenne expressed her huffiness over yesterday’s long day inside (the mares have been granted daily excursions outside while stalls were cleaned) by doing her very best Arabian prance, trotting around in the snow, snorting, with her head held high and tail up.

Their relief was our relief.

Hunter spent the night outside for the first time since the middle of January. Hooraaaay!

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Written by johnwhays

March 11, 2018 at 10:17 am

Warm Welcomes

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For those who haven’t been paying attention, we’ve reached the last day of February. Geez. It’s like 2018 is half over already. Tomorrow we welcome March to our calendars, historically a month when we can receive whoppers of snow storms in this region. In my youth, that was grand. Now, as a man with property and animal responsibilities, the big late-season storms threaten too much damage potential to be welcomed.

I’ll be pining for calm and boring as winter slowly makes its way into the history books.

After a couple of days back in our own bed again, things are settling back to normal. We are feeling fresh sensations of missing Fred and Marie (as well as Mike and Barb) and our meals and conversation on the lanai beside the pool, with the pond fountain spraying away spectacularly as our backdrop.

I have been enjoying a particularly warm welcome home from our cat, Pequenita. I think she missed me.

Not that Delilah didn’t, but ‘Nita just shows her lust for my attention much more emphatically. She steps right up for some prolonged hands-on contact and melts into a puddle of kneading, purring fur, regardless whatever blog writing I had in mind to accomplish.

On Monday afternoon, we welcomed a new farrier to the ranch, as George wasn’t available and the vet had prescribed some hoof trimming to treat Hunter’s laminitis. Our veterinarian provided a name and Cyndie was able to schedule the visit before we left town last week.

That was another reason I needed to have the driveway opened wide yesterday, after the two trucks had been dug free of the drift. Company was coming!

Hunter was a trooper, and suffered his way through standing on three feet, despite the pain. The new farrier, Marcus, said he tells people to imagine having migraine pain in the hoof. Today, Hunter is standing on a couple of reverse horseshoes, and seems to be okay with it, despite his otherwise having only ever been barefoot.

The reverse shoe supports the heel and relieves pressure at the toe.

We are definitely welcoming any relief Hunter can get. It’s been over a month now that he has been suffering, and pretty much everyone around here is suffering right along with him. It takes a toll.

Here’s hoping March brings calm weather and better health. It’s been a tough winter at Wintervale this year.

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Written by johnwhays

February 28, 2018 at 7:00 am

Pain Transfered

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Don’t let this image fool you. Delilah is almost completely back to her old self.

Tuesday, when I got home from work, Delilah was so full of energy that she wouldn’t leave Cyndie alone. After they came in from a walk, Delilah grabbed one of her squeaky toys and begged Cyndie to chase her around the house.

When Cyndie laid down on the bed for a moment, Delilah started repeatedly hopping straight into the air for more attention.

If she has any leftover pain, it wasn’t readily apparent.

Last night I gave her a fraction of a walk, keeping the leash short so she would walk beside me, at my pace. She strained to speed me up the whole way.

Every indication is that she is feeling just fine again.

On the other hand, or I could say, hoof… Cayenne seems to have picked up where Delilah’s pain left off. That mare has suddenly become almost incapacitated over an apparent flare-up of laminitis in her front feet again, particularly the side that hadn’t previously been giving her as much trouble.

It is heartbreaking to watch her struggle to move. I immediately isolated her from having access to grazing in the pastures, closing her into the smaller paddock. It seems like too little, too late, to completely turn the tide for this condition which is proving to be rather chronic for her.

Cyndie said Cayenne didn’t show signs of a problem earlier in the day, so maybe by cutting off her grass-grazing right away, this flare-up can be calmed quickly. I fear it is all part of a trend for Cayenne that may be out of our control to alleviate.

We’ve spent the summer watching George shape her hooves in increments to improve the orientation and provide her some relief, but it is a long, slow process because you can’t trim too much at a time. Now, just when we were hoping to have her beyond this problem, she is showing a turn for the worse.

We’re very happy to have Delilah free of pain, but seeing an extreme discomfort move from one of our animals to another puts a damper on our urge to celebrate our dog’s improvement.

When our animals hurt, it tends to inflict a fair amount of sympathetic pain in us, too.

Ouch.

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Written by johnwhays

October 12, 2017 at 6:00 am

Beating Heat

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Although Arabian horses were bred to perform under harsh desert conditions, the humidity that we get with our high heat is enough to make all species a little irritated. In the summer, we offer our horses a warm dusty breeze that moves enough air to toss their manes and chase off some flies.

It actually seems like little comfort, blowing hot, humid air, but Legacy has taken a particular liking to it.

Delilah prefers to lay on the cool tile in the house. Her fur coat doesn’t allow for wind to be much help. Luckily, she is a big fan of sprayed water from the hose, so we can shrink her coat dramatically by getting her wet.

We are arriving upon my last weekend before the annual June biking and camping week. I will be looking for a way to spend some time on the bike seat without putting myself at risk of heat stroke. It would be really helpful if I could rig up a mount on my tractor instead, so I could sit on my bike seat while mowing the lawn.

Speaking of mowing, I will be picking up the old Craftsman rider from the shop this morning. Now I can return the borrowed John Deere and get back to my own rig. I’ll be able to find out if it runs well under intense heat, that’s for sure.

The summer heat has brought out the lightning bugs. With the strawberry moon glowing brilliantly last night, the neon green flashes dancing above the tall grasses made for a glorious nighttime walk with Delilah as I rolled the trash and recycling bins down to the road.

George has come back for the weekend while he is serving his farrier clients in the region. I tended to the horses while he trimmed our herd after dinner. Cayenne is making good progress. He removed her shoes and left her bare foot again.

It may be hot, but things here are actually running pretty cool.

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Written by johnwhays

June 9, 2017 at 6:00 am

First Shoes

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Baby gots new shoes! Sadly, it’s not all fun that led to this milestone for Cayenne. She has shown virtually no improvement in the last week with her painful inflammation of the tissue that connects the hoof wall to bones in her hoof. Cyndie has put in extra time with the horses to get them indoors overnight, where the footing is soft and the horses can spend extra time safely off their feet.img_ip1960e

Cayenne has also been receiving regular doses of anti-inflammatory medicine. Still, she continues to show signs of being so uncomfortable that she will resist walking down to the waterer to get a drink. Cyndie put out an additional bucket of water to accommodate Cayenne’s trepidation over crossing the crunchy distance to the usual waterer.

When the vet visited to confirm Cayenne’s laminitis diagnosis, he listed options related to the pending farrier appointment for our horses regular trim. He assured us that George would know what to do.

We started with a modified trim to help distribute the weight away from the most tender pressure point of Cayenne’s hooves. Since improvement was not apparent, we moved to the next level. Cayenne would get shoes.

Not just shoes, but also a leather pad that George enhances with the addition of a special void-filling concoction to maximize the protection of her sensitive tissues.

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img_ip1966eGeorge gave us extra attention at the end of his work day to squeeze in time giving Cayenne her first-ever experience of nails pounding into her hooves. She responded as well as we imagined possible and though obviously uncomfortable, stood long and calm while George fit the shoes and hammered them home.

Cyndie held the lead with a handful of hay as a ready distraction and Cayenne accepted the pounding on her feet as though she understood it was for a greater good.

The shoes are only on her front two feet, as those are the primary weight-bearing two and are giving her the most trouble.

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George finished the job with an application of hoof sealer that gave her a shiny look of high fashion. I’m sure she will be the talk of the herd with her new fancy feet.  Now we continue the anti-inflammatory meds and watch for improvement.

Hopefully, her pain will ease and we’ll have our healthy old Cayenne back to full activity in the shortest time possible.

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Written by johnwhays

March 5, 2017 at 11:07 am