Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘horses

November’s End

leave a comment »

The weather predictions were spot-on for our area yesterday. They said it would snow and snow it did. Now, on the last day of November, it looks a lot like December outside. We received somewhere between 5 to 7 inches.

I was hoping it would stop snowing before I needed to head out and start plowing. To kill time, I spent the afternoon hours watching the U.S. men’s soccer team outlast Iran to advance to the round of 16 in the World Cup. Now we have to go through similar tense spectating on Saturday when going up against the Netherlands. It’s a good problem to have. It makes me think, be careful what you wish for.

I fed the horses in the morning just as the big snow was beginning to fall. They haven’t shown a great interest in the hay boxes until recently. Now is a good time to choose the boxes because they are well inside the overhang offering protection from rain and snow.

I’ve still been serving them hay in net bags so they have options. At this point, I would say they are going through the combination of bags and boxes at about an equal rate.

As darkness approached, I headed back out into the falling snow to feed the horses. They seemed to be taking the wintery weather in stride. While they munched on the pellets in their feed pans, I cranked up the ATV to plow.

It always seems like I make a big ruckus plowing, constantly backing up to then push forward again, over and over one blade-width at a time around the barn and hay shed. The horses don’t seem the least bit perturbed by the disturbance. I think it bothers me more than it does them.

When I felt I had done a reasonably sufficient job with the plow, I parked it back in the garage. The shoulders weren’t frozen solid yet so I did my best to keep the blade confined to just the width of the pavement.

A precious snow-dampened quiet returned and I noticed the moon was clearly visible in the sky. The falling snow had finally stopped. The only flakes still flying were being blown around by the wind.

There was still a lot of hand shoveling to be done around doorways, walkways, and the deck but I saved that for later today. After I drive Cyndie to a physical therapy appointment, I’m going to celebrate the last day of November 2022 by cleaning up new-fallen snow. She will be getting an initial assessment done to develop a rehab exercise plan.

Too bad there won’t be any snow shoveling included in her rehab plan.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

November 30, 2022 at 7:00 am

Barriers Down

with 3 comments

I will admit the ongoing pressure of caretaking the rash of events we’ve faced in the last month is making it hard for me to maintain a sunny disposition. My positive outlook is getting worn to a frazzle and the lonesome walk to the barn had become something I started to dread. The prescribed confinement of Mix intended to guard her leg against any further damage was not only taking a toll on Mix’s state of mind but the other three were starting to show their frustration, too, not to mention how it was weighing increasingly heavy on me.

With support from our liaison to This Old Horse who has been coming over twice a day to convince Mix to swallow her meds, we gradually opened more space for our injured mare. This morning I opened the gates allowing all four horses to intermingle throughout the two paddocks as one herd.

I think their relief was second to my own. It is one less thing I need to be concerned with in our daily routine. Just in time for what the week ahead holds for us. I will be driving Cyndie to multiple appointments and on Tuesday or Wednesday, I will likely need to clear snow.

It will make my life much easier if Mix and the other horses aren’t unhappy with their situation. I’m hoping that having Mix’s barriers down will help me to feel happier, too!

.

.

Another Drama

leave a comment »

What is it with all the issues coming our way lately? It’s as if the universe is seeking to exercise the limits of my ability to cope with stress.

It’s getting exhausting, I tell ya.

Yesterday afternoon, while serving up pans of feed for the horses, I noticed blood on Mix’s leg.

I took pictures to send to Cyndie up at the house. While I was waiting for her to acknowledge, a little intimidation from Swings caused Mix to attempt a hasty retreat that almost failed because of the way she tried to avoid using that wounded leg. I knew this would require inspection by someone who knows much more about horses than me.

Cyndie made some calls and shared the images. Because it looked like it could be a puncture wound and the location was near a joint, it was deemed worth contacting a veterinarian.

I moved horses around and closed gates to isolate Mix from all three of the others so she wouldn’t need to do any hasty retreating. The vet finally arrived long after dark, but he quickly analyzed the wound and administered meds. I drove Cyndie down to the barn and she used crutches to come in and observe.

The vet strongly suggested we confine Mix to just the space under her half of the overhang and gave us two medications that I will need to give her with her food.

If she stops eating because I put medicines in her food, I will lose my mind.

I strung some fence tape between posts to constrain Mix to the overhang. Having her pinned in there also required me to provide her with a bucket for water.

The cause of her wound remains a mystery. I will need to look for a possible loose screw or nail that she might have come up against.

On the bright side, there aren’t many more things left that I need to fill in for Cyndie’s expertise around here. I’ve already grappled with a majority of them at this point. All this drama is helping me to appreciate how wonderful my life was a month ago before all the illnesses and accidents made their way into our routine.

On Monday we met with Cyndie’s trauma surgeon again and he decided to leave the stitches in her ankle for one more week. Otherwise, he said the foot and ankle look good. Not that I’m counting, but only seven more weeks until she can walk on it.

That will be a little drama that I am looking forward to seeing.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

November 23, 2022 at 7:00 am

Food Issues

leave a comment »

How strange it is to have our Belgian Tervuren Shepherd becoming finicky about eating. In our attempts to treat her for what was becoming chronic vomiting, she seems to have lost trust that we are offering nutrition in good faith. We tried hiding her two prescription pills in every possible enticing morsel. She ate the first one or two and ever after has successfully separated the pills from whatever we hid them in.

Now Delilah is refusing the prescribed diet offerings and even turning away from servings of her regular food. The only thing she still gladly chomps are kitty treats left over from our days with Pequenita.

Maybe she misses her kitty sister.

Honestly, I think Delilah won’t get back to normal until Cyndie is back to normal, too.

This morning I heard Cyndie report to someone over the phone that she was off the prescription pain meds, so she is continuing to make good progress. The biggest burden she is struggling with is not that her ankle surgery is only one week old, but the fact that Delilah is not doing well.

I continue refining my technique for serving the horses their three feed sessions. Since half of them are supposed to receive larger portions, I can’t just leave them on their own or the bolder ones will move in and push away the two who should get the larger servings.

When I am successful in splitting them into groups by serving size, I can care less about who is stealing whose portion.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Light is notorious for wanting to get in Swings’ space, yet Swings is the primarily dominant mare of the herd. Why Swings tolerates the intrusions from Light is beyond me. Is Swings peacefully sharing or is Light perniciously seeking control?

I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter to me since they both receive the same serving size. They both eat together until the servings are gone, so neither is getting short-changed.

Now if Delilah would resume eating until her servings are fully consumed and keep them down long enough to digest them fully, that would be great.

I need to go feed Cyndie. She seems to be having no problems eating food.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

November 19, 2022 at 11:38 am

Who’s Boss

leave a comment »

These days I’m on my own in tending to the horses and we have added a third feeding at mid-day to their routine. As a result, I am singularly tasked with managing two different serving sizes among the four horses. The general routine we have tried to maintain has involved closing the upper gates temporarily to break them into pairings of Light and Mia on the left and Swings and Mix on the right.

Oftentimes, they arrange themselves perfectly after they see us coming, but not always. Although, even if they start in the desired positions, it is pretty common for at least one of them to decide they need to go check on the other pan on their side, just in case it tastes better.

Or something like that. It would not be beyond them to also be flaunting a little dominance when they are feeling it.

The last couple of days I have taken to showing the interlopers that I am the boss of all of them. For example, Mix eats slower and gets served a larger portion than Swings. When Swings decides it’s time to saunter over and nudge Mix off her pan, I have been taking the pan away from Swings and serving it back to Mix, holding it while she tries to finish.

There can be one or two more maneuvers that transpire but it seemed to me yesterday that Swings was starting to recognize my intent and accept it without protest.

When circumstance has allowed, I have also experimented with changing who gets paired or switching to three horses on one side and one horse on the other. Since Mix and Mia both get the same-sized portion of feed, I like having them together on one side. Then I don’t have to care if any of the four try to switch.

We grant these horses so much autonomy that it is refreshing to occasionally brandish my authority with enough clarity that they have no reasons to doubt who the boss is when Cyndie and/or I show up.

**************************************

For The Record: Lest there be any confusion resulting from the fact our home is located in Wisconsin, *this* John W. Hays is now and always has been a Minnesota Vikings guy. Sometimes I have been inclined to whisper that fact instead of showing it off proudly. After a performance like the one yesterday against NFL’s second-ranked Buffalo Bills, where the Vikings came from behind and then survived an overtime battle culminating in an endzone interception to win 33–30, I just wanted to make sure nobody was mistaking me for a Green Bay Packer backer. Especially since I couldn’t bear to watch the last drive in overtime by Buffalo and took Delilah for a walk and fed the horses.

[silly grin]

.

.

Written by johnwhays

November 14, 2022 at 7:00 am

Like November

leave a comment »

It’s beginning to feel a lot like… November. Finally. The temperature stayed below freezing all day yesterday and we experienced a misty drizzle that created a shiny frozen glaze over surfaces.

The upper area of the paddocks just beyond the overhang had become a sloppy, muddy mess after the recent rains. Now it has become the classic ankle-twisting gnarled and knobbly frozen surface that makes cleaning up piles of manure an exercise in futility. It completely stymies my desire for impeccable cleanliness in the area where the horses linger longest.

This morning on our walk, Delilah and I enjoyed a little visit with the cows who seemed particularly curious about our arrival at the corner where our properties meet. I don’t know much about cows, but it got me wondering about how they view the world of wild animals that travel these acres in comparison to their confined domestic status.

It probably isn’t very different from the experience of our horses, but the horses give off an aura of awareness that the cows appear to lack.

After Delilah’s vet visit yesterday, we have her on a strict bland diet of rice and meat and are giving her some anti-nausea medication to see if her stomach can regain its control in keeping contents contained.

I am extremely grateful to have not needed to clean up vomit for more than a day. Here’s hoping for two in a row.

Cyndie’s mom came over yesterday and spent the night offering her help in kitchen patrol. Our kitchen is not optimized for her methods so she is sounding just as taxed as I do when I pretend to cook for Cyndie, and I know where most things are stored and how our appliances work.

I’ve become chief fireplace officer and video entertainment system tech.

Pain management appears under control for Cyndie now and she is doing her best from the confines of her recliner to advise on the location of searched-for items, hoping to stay ahead of Marie’s and my frustrations as we do the caretaking of the caretaker.

Not that I’m counting, but only 8-weeks to go before Cyndie can start putting weight on her right foot again.

By then, November will be a distant memory.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

November 12, 2022 at 11:45 am

Chugging Along

with 2 comments

Like a freight train chugging along the tracks, we are slowly making our way toward an appointment tomorrow morning with a trauma surgeon for an assessment of Cyndie’s situation. Just about 24 hours to go. Of course, we had to suffer the curse of setting our clocks back one-hour last night to move out of daylight saving time, making this weekend an hour longer. What’s one more hour?

I don’t have as much time to write as I am usually granted, given that I am now thrust into the head cook and chief bottle washer duties in addition to the solo animal feeder. I noticed a shift in allegiance from Delilah. She is normally glued to Cyndie’s side but since I was the one slinging food around the kitchen, Delilah made sure to keep a close eye on my actions, leaving Cyndie alone in the bedroom.

I got the impression there might be a shifting of relationships among the herd of horses this morning, too. It seemed as though Light was making a play to put much more pressure on Swings’ herd-leader position, repeatedly and strongly commanding control of whichever feed pan from which Swings was trying to eat.

In an unusual pairing, this morning Mix easily volunteered to take up a position opposite Swings and Light, on the side with Mia. I was very happy to oblige because those two receive a similar, but larger serving of feed. Mia usually finishes sooner, but she won’t steal from Mix.

On the other side, Light and Swings each get a smaller serving portion so I don’t really care if they keep swapping pans.

Today I must do laundry and make a grocery run.

Chugging along down the tracks.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

November 6, 2022 at 11:16 am

Holding On

leave a comment »

Sometimes it feels like sanity in public society is precariously hanging on by mere threads. Scaremongering. Election deniers who are unable to provide evidence to support their wild range of accusations of widespread fraud. Crazy claims continue to survive the passage of time without losing momentum over the lack of reality-based proof. No, they just seem to grow the way wind-blown wildfires do.

I don’t understand it.

Why doesn’t truth snuff out the flames? Why aren’t healthy-minded people able to drown out the extremely offensive antisemitic and racist noise emanating from too many varieties of modern media?

It’s spookier than Halloween, I tell ya.

A full-sized Snickers would go a long way toward distracting me from how thin the tenuous line of healthy thinking is holding society together.

What should we believe? That kids will don wild costumes and roam door to door in neighborhoods to holler for tricks and treats?

Preposterous.

There is something else I don’t understand. How does a quarterback heave a football sixty yards downfield so that it reaches a racing receiver who is running at full speed and still able to look up at the last second as the ball drops perfectly within easy reach while all manner of defensive mayhem is unleashed around both guys?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if NFL players dropped to the ground, writhing in pain each time an opponent committed a penalty against them? I’m poking fun at you, FIFA Men’s World Cup contenders.

I have yet to figure out how to reconcile the discontentment over the questionable (ahem…bribes?) award back in 2010 of this year’s World Cup to Qatar. Add to that the controversial treatment of immigrant laborers needed to build the infrastructure of stadiums and other facilities to support the global sporting event and the need to reschedule the tourney to the northern hemisphere winter season due to the average high temperature of the desert nation. It all feels just plain wrong trying to fully enjoy the game competitions under the tarnished situation of awarding Qatar the honor of hosting.

I suppose I could wear a black band on my arm while watching the games.

All these issues are meaningless to our horses. They are holding on to their sanity by simply being horses. I’m not sure they sense the climate is changing but they are vividly aware of how many warm, dry, and sunny days in a row we have been experiencing for months. It has become common lately to find the four of them gathered along the far fence of the hay field taking turns laying down to nap in the mid-morning sunshine.

When I feel like I’m barely holding on to my healthy mindset, my favorite remedy involves an extended quiet visit with the herd of horses.

Even though it feels weird to be outside in short sleeves at the end of October.

Happy Halloween!

.

.

Written by johnwhays

October 31, 2022 at 6:00 am

Grand Opening

with 2 comments

One of the first projects we did shortly after we arrived here ten years ago had to do with the rusted old barbed wire fence along our northern property border. We climbed into the thick bramble of thorny trees and pulled up much of the old barbed wire, replacing it with a new nylon fence rope.

Our thinking at the time was that we might have horses coming near the fences along the property borders and barbed wire is inappropriate for horses. What we didn’t realize at the time was that the area we picked to start working was the least likely to ever have horse traffic near it.

For ten years since, much of that area has been ignored and allowed to grow unconstrained. That resulted in a wild thicket of grape vines snarled around the sharp thorns of wild plum trees. It was easy to cut vines and trees down but an incredibly frustrating battle to pull the branches apart and then shove them into a new tangle parallel to the fence line.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

We decided to leave a couple of nice-looking maple trees alone, even though they look like they are right in the middle of the pathway. They are easy enough to walk around and will be a nice asset as they grow to maturity in the years to come.

We ended up with a pleasing alleyway between the pine trees and the wall of tangled branches along the property line. My goal, as always along this stretch of our northern border from the road up to the shop garage, is to continually trim back new growth until that thicket begins to look like a giant hedge delineating our property line.

It was the grand opening of a pathway that took us ten years to finally accomplish.

I stacked a few rocks on the old pine stump we had saved for just that purpose. It was an expression of our interest in opening up this portion of trail for more regular visits.

Like every other new trail we have opened up, this one is suddenly our new favorite and beckons us to return for a stroll each time we venture outside.

We walked it with flashlights in the dark last night upon our return from rolling the trash bin down the end of the driveway by the road. Shortly after we had gotten back inside the house, one of the largest and loudest outbursts of coyote howling started up. We stepped outside to listen and I got the sense it was coming from two different directions.

I whistled my most shrill loud whistle and their yelping stopped. Cyndie walked to the barn and turned on all the outside lights.

My guess is they were all excited about our new trail and were feeling in a celebratory mood over it. It gives me pleasure to know they won’t be getting any chicken dinners from us. Not for a while, anyway. One never knows when the urge to have free-ranging chickens again will override our frustrations over losing so many of them to predators.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

October 28, 2022 at 6:00 am

Swift Switch

leave a comment »

We were not expecting to wake up to such a wintery scene yesterday morning as the one that greeted us as darkness faded enough to reveal whiteness covering our deck.

Ever one to playfully re-interpret reality, before Cyndie opened her eyes, I told her that it didn’t rain overnight like we had expected. The early dose of measurable snowfall made about the same impression on our Japanese silver grass as it did on us.

It felt like a great day to stay in bed a little longer than usual and be warm under covers but duty called and we dug boots from deep in the closet, spilling a pile of things out in the process, and took Delilah for a walk before feeding the horses.

Speaking of horses, yesterday we had a visit from the nutritionist from This Old Horse who measured each of our Thoroughbred mares and issued a pleasing assessment that they all looked really, really good and healthy.

They have gained weight as hoped. We’ve been giving Mix an extra serving of feed pellets per day and we will begin doing the same with Mia to keep them on track toward a goal of optimal robustness. Mia, especially, could use a bit more body fat to cope at this time of year. She was pretty shivery at the start of the day. We are going to get a moisture-wicking blanket for her to help during these in-between weeks of cold precipitation.

Their winter blankets would be a bit much at this point. She just needs a raincoat.

Mix likes using mud for a covering. She rubbed her face firmly to paint her cheeks thoroughly and looked proud of her appearance after she stood up again.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

By the end of the day the snow had disappeared and this morning there are areas of blue sky overhead. We are feeling a new urgency about finishing a few projects that require we be able to see the ground, including one that involves digging dirt before it freezes.

We also still need to shut down and pull the pump from our landscape pond. It looked strange to see the water flowing with everything covered in snow. I pulled a snow shovel out to clear the steps yesterday morning, feeling it was way too soon to be doing so.

Time marches on. We are having our grief over Pequenita’s passing poked by continuing to find her toys tucked under or behind furniture. Even a dust bunny of cat hair becomes a tear-jerker at this point. Thank you to all who have conveyed your support. We truly appreciate the love. ❤️

.

.

Written by johnwhays

October 15, 2022 at 10:09 am