Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Hunter

Deeply Sleepy

leave a comment »

I mentioned in yesterday’s post about my turning the compost pile in the paddock while Cyndie brushed the horses, but I completely forgot to describe the startling incident we witnessed while there.

While we silently toiled amid the unparalleled calm of a windless spring sunny day, Dezirea was wafting off to sleep. I wasn’t paying direct attention to her as I huffed over heavy pitchfork lifting, but that changed when she suddenly jerked.

“Did you see that?” I asked Cyndie.

She had.

Dezirea was standing on the slope just beyond the overhang, facing downhill. In the warmth and serenity of the morning, she fell into a deep enough sleep that her front legs buckled. In the same way I do when my head jerks in inadvertent loss of consciousness when unplanned sleep surprises me, she startled herself back to alert.

Sort of alert, that is.

Seconds later, she did it again, except this time, she actually dropped all the ways to her knees. We both tried to encourage her to simply lay down for a serious nap.

In our thinking, we could be trusted to watch over the herd while she slept. But I can understand her hesitance. My attention was not as aware of our surroundings as it was on what I was working on directly in front of me.

Struggling to get back on her feet, instead of going down the rest of the way to the ground, Dezirea made her way around so that she was facing uphill, where she resumed the usual upright nap that horses deftly accomplish.

I didn’t take any pictures during this drama, but I do have a series of images to share. I was intending to get a shot of Hunter’s mane, which he somehow finds ways to crop short, but he picked up his head and provided these views of his munching hay, instead.

.

Bon Apetit!

.

.

Written by johnwhays

April 22, 2018 at 9:43 am

The Diet

leave a comment »

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.

 

.

.

Written by johnwhays

March 12, 2018 at 6:00 am

He’s Out!

with 2 comments

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!

.

.

Written by johnwhays

March 11, 2018 at 10:17 am

Warm Welcomes

with 2 comments

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.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

February 28, 2018 at 7:00 am

Hangry Horses

leave a comment »

Cyndie had me laughing on Friday with a message that Hunter and Cayenne had busted one of the 2×8 boards on the shared wall of their stalls.

We have had pretty good luck with minimizing the gnawing of boards on our fences and the stalls in the barn over the first four years with our horses, but in this latest stint of their being forced indoors day after day, while also getting precisely measured reduced rations of hay, the wood is finally taking quite a (b)eating.

Although it has seemed like Hunter was doing the most damage in recent days, Cayenne is not an innocent bystander. She has some history from a couple of years ago, when that board came off when Legacy was in the stall next to her. There wasn’t a lot of chewing going on, so we surmised she had simply pushed it off into Legacy’s stall.

Back then, I was able to reuse the board and put it back up, securing it with longer screws.

This time, they had done enough damage that I needed to get a whole new board.

We decided to add a metal edge to discourage a repeat performance.

The tightly controlled diet they’re on is probably going to last for a long time, if not forever, so “hangry” is something we will need to help them resolve.

It’s been a blissful treat watching them graze our pastures in years past, but the accumulating results of that luxury has not been healthy for them. Wild horses that need to cover a lot of ground to search out food and water while also moving around to manage herd safety, expend a lot more energy than our fenced herd.

Our three don’t get enough exercise to offset the abundant and lush grass that grows in our fields. They are going to need to get used to living on much smaller portions from here on out.

More immediately, I’m just looking forward to Hunter getting free of the hoof pain and being able to stay out of the barn for everything but the worst weather.

From the “hangry” wood chewing we are seeing, I’m confident in saying he is looking forward to it even more than me.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

February 19, 2018 at 7:00 am

Test Results

with 2 comments

Our veterinarian called with results of Hunter’s blood work. High levels of glucose and insulin suggest equine insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome. I have a feeling we have slowly been building to this over the last few years of under-exercising and over-feeding our horses.

We’ve had hints of the situation before and made some loose attempts to moderate things over the years, but it appears our efforts have fallen short. The prognosis now is calling for a shift to an extreme that we are struggling to reconcile.

There is a high likelihood that Hunter will need to be confined to the paddock and fed a tightly measured amount of hay that needs pre-soaking to reduce the sugar content even more. It is no way for a horse to live, as far as I’m concerned, but it may be what we have to do.

I can’t imagine what it will do to Hunter’s spirit to confine him to the paddock, surrounded by acres of lush green pasture in the summer.

Honestly, our heads are not in a good place right now to frame this with oodles of positive possibilities. In fact, this news just serves to expose how little I have moved from the cloud of grief that descended upon us on the day Legacy died.

This week the horses are spending most of their time in the barn. Well, Hunter has spent ALL of his time in the barn, and the mares get a little break outside each day while Cyndie mucks the stalls. Even this routine feels so wrong, but it is the immediate treatment required to get him beyond this situation of extremely painful hooves.

They are tolerating it well enough.

Everything here seems to be hanging in limbo. I’m wondering if we shouldn’t just let Wintervale have a break for a year, like we did with our hay-field last summer. Let things rest while giving it a chance to become re-energized for a new season of unseen possibilities after some reflection and re-planning.

We are seeking peace with all the new developments, and making time for reflection is going to help. Despite my inclination to want to immediately escape it all in order to put the challenges behind me, I am trusting in the logic of staying put to discover where this all leads.

For our own good, it is best that we not make any rash decisions in the midst of grief and uncertainty.

Now would be a really good time for me to practice some of that procrastination I’m always bragging about.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

February 7, 2018 at 7:00 am

What Led?

with 14 comments

The weeks that have followed the unexpected death of Legacy, our Arabian gray who was the herd leader of three chestnuts, have been made even more difficult by some extreme winter weather, the death of a colleague and friend whom Cyndie worked with during her years as Principal of Eden Prairie High School, and now signs of some laminitis lameness in Hunter.

Among the many contributing factors listed for laminitis, we found that hormonal imbalance caused by stress of moving a horse or the loss of a field companion spoke directly to the situation effecting our remaining three. Sadly, this recent heavy snow accumulation, followed by the dramatic thaw, has added another risk by making the uneven frozen footing in the paddocks hazardous for bruising or mechanical damage to the cellular bond between sensitive laminae and the hoof wall.

On top of these issues, this weekend Cyndie and I were smacked with the reality that her car is in need of cost prohibitive repairs. Logic indicates it is time to shop for a different vehicle for her.

Roll all these issues together and our grieving minds both came to a similar thought: has our dream of making Wintervale Ranch into a functioning business met with defeat?

Life was a heck of a lot less complicated for me when I lived in the suburbs and only had to deal with maintaining the house and our tiny lot. I hate to admit there are aspects of that which look desirable in comparison to our current situation.

Our unpredictable and decidedly inadequate combined incomes do not make shopping for a replacement vehicle as simple as it once was for us. Right now, shopping for a different car seems to be a tipping point for our analysis of this whole crazy move to the country to build a self-sustaining retreat and learning center.

What led us here in the first place?

We found ourselves revisiting the series of inspirational events that sequentially fueled our passion and groomed our decisions. From the magical trip to spend two weeks with Ian Rowcliffe in Portugal, to Cyndie’s apprenticeship in Linda Kohanov’s Eponaquest workshops, to our discovery of this gorgeous property and log home in west-central Wisconsin, the mid-life transition we embarked on seemed supernaturally ordained.

Where is that inspiration now?

Instead of the surprisingly achievable answers and solutions that have blessed us in response to all the incredible challenges that arose throughout the early years of this adventure, we are increasingly noticing a lack of income-generating response to our offerings and an increase in stressful difficulties with our animal partners.

Obviously, the most dramatic stressor being Legacy’s sudden death.

Just like all that has come before, we know there is a lesson for us in this. Even though he is gone, Legacy still has something to teach us.

At the center of it all is, love.

We grieve because we love and experienced a loss, but loving is how we got where we are today.

We believe it is possible to rediscover the love and inspiration that guided us here and we are seeking to re-attune ourselves to more of the surprisingly achievable answers and solutions that have graced our journey thus far.

What led us here is exactly the same as what will lead us to what happens next.

Please keep your seat belts fastened and your arms and hands inside at all times for the remainder of this wild ride.

.

.