Horses, Life, A Touch of Geek

Archive for the ‘Horse Care’ Category

Note to Self, Other Horse

Hangry, Hangry Hippo
Upset tums don’t get fed. Milton was not happy about this.


Hey, see that brown lump in the field? That’s your other horse. Perfectly sound. Ready to ride, to the extent that you two ride these days. Did you forget?

You would think I could find 20 minutes to sit on Rodney. Alas, no. Ministering to Milton takes most of my time and all of my energy. Rodney is once again marginalized by a sick roommate [Shadow Horse].

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Foto Friday: Year of the Dog


For today’s post, I had intended to labor mightily in the vineyards of art to produce a stunning, compelling, virtuoso photograph that distilled the essence of canine.

Instead, you get a impromptu smartphone snap.

Holding a leadrope and reading a book while your horse grazes shouldn’t wear one out. But it does. At least, it does me.

Milton is doing great [Medical Update]. My work? The dishes? The blog? Not so much.

Happy Year of the Dog.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Milton’s Medical Update

My life for the next two weeks, give or take.


Not much to report, which is excellent news.

Last Friday, Milton went in to have a large, fist-sized melanoma cut off the inside of his upper right hind leg. Equine melanomas are not the dire diagnosis that they are in humans. It’s a bump. It got cut off. It will come back. On veterinary advice, we waited as long as possible. When the leg around the bump swelled, the time had come to address the issue [God Laughs, Ups & Downs].

In my understanding, the big deal was the anesthesiology. We would have had the bump cut off years ago if it could have been done under local. Therefore, as soon as Milton stood back up Friday morning, the excitement was over.

We are left waiting for the wound on his leg to heal. As soon as the mass was cut off, the skin sproinged apart. Nine stitches were used on a few small blood vessels and to close the hole down as much as possible. The most likely worst case scenario is that the skin sutures give/come out and we have to wait for a larger hole to heal. The medical people involved are not worried.

I will continue to put out a daily update Tweet, on sidebar —>. They may get boring. Boring is good.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

In or Out? On or Off? Questions of Horse Management

Ice on the butt …

… front doesn’t care.

When the recent cold snap was looming on the horizon, many of my neighbors chose to blanket &/or put up their horses. We chose to do neither.

Human behavior toward horses often reflects our values as a species rather than the way the horses see the world [How I Learned to Think Like a Horse]. In this case, my desire to be toasty warm inside my house and not come out until Spring. If I do go out, I wear enough layers to cause comment from passers-by.

Yes, if you clip a horse’s coat, you are responsible for replacing the defenses that you removed. You are committed to a winter’s worth of blankets, stalls, lights, whatever it takes. This is one reason I don’t clip.

I’m not anti-blanket. Mathilda and Previous Horse wore them for years. Mathilda scoffed at them when she was younger, but became quite the blanket hog in her old age. Rodney doesn’t get them because he shocks himself [Zap!]. Milton points out that there is no reason that HE should be punished because Rodney can’t manage a blanket.

After this bout of weather, I’m pondering that blankets are far less necessary than I had previous thought, provided the horses are healthy, fit, well-cared for, etc. My Shetland doesn’t blanket, except for individual need, and those horses live in far more extreme conditions.

I am mildly anti-stall. I understand that there might be insufficient land or that people are worried about the safety of expensive show horses or that some horses (coughSamcough) would be appalled at the idea of living outside. Overall, the only purpose of a stall is to make life easier for the humans.

Instead of stalls and blankets, we shoveled hay and hot water at Rodney and Milton. I upped the grain a little, mostly for my benefit. Internal warmth comes from the long-term digestion of hay. So they got hay. Lots and lots of hay. Little snacks throughout the day rather than one big load. The frequency of snacks wasn’t a problem since we were marching up to the barn every few hours with buckets of warm water from the house. They love this. Rodney will drop half a bucket in one go. Providing water also meant we didn’t worry when the trough froze over. They have access to shelter at all times, but didn’t use it (unless we put their hay there).

Truly cold weather is rare enough that all of this is feasible. Obviously, we would make different arrangements if we lived farther north, or had more horses.

They seemed fine with it. Some mornings, after thunder and rain, we can see that they are tired from a long night. This week, they were happy and rested for the entire arctic episode. We never had wintery mix, so they didn’t have issues of getting wet. The snow settled on their backs and their dense, plush coats insulated the horse underneath. They seemed bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. And wanting more hay.

Forty years with horses and I’m still learning.

Snow Posts
[Foto Friday: Snow Day Photo Essay]
[Letter Art: Snow 2018] pending

[Foto Friday: Stella] Guest Photo
[Winter Tournament (S)No Report]
[Foto Friday: Snowrise]
[Snow Day]

[Hay Roll Art: Snowman]

2014 Snowmageddon
[Post Called On Account Of Snow]
[Foto Friday: Snow Day Montage]
[Text Art: Snow Letters]
[Show Today: Winter Tournament, Rocking S] Guest Photo
[Foto Friday: Ice]

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

All Better. For Now.

tldr: Rodney had a tummyache. He is back on ulcer meds. I am riding again.

Back in the saddle. The tongue thing is new.

As I’ve said before [Rodney’s Feet], one of Rodney’s tells for pain is to act scared. He was doing this, but only in the barn. Out in the pasture, he was galloping about without a care in the world. Put a halter on him: Sky is falling! Sky is falling! I took this personally, leading to gloomy posts such as this [The December Dismals] and this [Looking Back 2017, Home Team].

We were increasing his feed yet having to tighten his girth. In hindsight, duh. But hindsight is like that.

I took him for a simple, in-hand walk around the field. He was awful. He was so awful that I gave up halfway back to the barn, removed his halter, and allowed him to run off. I could have wrestled him home, but to what end? I tweeted my medical advisor. He heard the frustration behind the tweet. The options for problems were muscular-skeletal or digestive. The former was clearly out, so perhaps his gut had gone funky again. Medical Advisor came home, got the leftover bottle of pills from the shelf, put them in my hand, and said, “One month.”

I thought we had put Rodney’s stomach issues behind us. Wrong. Apparently, if one is a super-special snowflake who feels the world deeply, one can have flare ups.

After one dose, Rodney was noticeably better, i.e. happier. I retraced the walk that he had done so poorly. Success. After two walks, I sat on him again. We are now doing mini-micro dressage moves and ridden walks around the field within sight of the barn. I’m thrilled. It’s not much on a grand scale, but at least the vector is back to pointing in the correct direction.

Was it the new feed? Probably not. It’s been over a year [Feed Adventures] and Rodney was fine earlier in the year [We Leg Yield, Who Knew?]. For a long while, I blamed the massages [Massage Day, Dismals]. Sorry Molly. My current thinking is the sand colic pellets [Sand Colic?]. Since it had done great things for Milton [QR], we tried Rodney on a week’s worth. Perked him right up. So we repeated it the next month. Wrong. I hypothesize that the scouring action of cleaning out his gut was okay once, but too harsh on a regular basis. Rather like using strong toothpaste on my sensitive teeth. I have no idea if this theory has any bearing on Rodney’s digestive reality. Any equine physiologists out there?

So, we are back to grinding pills and dosing him with a syringe [Say Aaaah!, Rodney Update] We won’t keep him on ulcer meds. They are expensive if he doesn’t need them all the time, and, more importantly change his attitude [Zeno’s Horse Training]. He’ll probably get a maintenance dose one week each month, as Milton does with the sand stuff. Do they need it? Who knows. For now we are not messing with success.

Why change one variable when you can contaminate the experiment by changing multiple variables at once?

We reinstituted naps to give Rodney alone time.

We added probiotics. Medical Advisor has been reading data that suggests probiotics are more than mere manure additives.

We acutely dose Rodney with an oral syringe of antacid – the white stuff not the pink stuff – before each ride.

We ordered new brushes. While Rodney is less fearful in the barn, he is still prone to sudden spooks. We think he might be unusually affected by static. Either he generates more shocks, or he is more sensitive to them, or both. His winter grooming kit now consists of a hoof pick and a cotton towel. I wear leather gloves. I thought a rubber curry comb was safe. Turns out electric insulator and generating static electricity are two different properties. We have ordered static-free brushes. More on these once they have been judged by the staticee. Super-duper-special snowflake.

Something in this avalanche of changes is working.

Right now Rodney is behaving better under saddle than in the barn, which is unusual for any of my horses.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

New Equipment: Rodney Tests The Vest

Vests for our CDE debut.

Greg gets the short vest since he sits. I get the longer since I stand. Plus I might, someday, possibly, in a fantasy world, use it on cross-country.

Overall, Rodney has done little this summer. Once his ankle was almost deswollen [Dubious Future], he got a small scuff right under the saddle. Thanks Milton. Once that was healed and growing hair, I took him for a brief walk, pictured here.

Afterwards, I found a cut on the inside of this lip. Although small and nowhere near the bit, for a horse who is already hyper-sensitive, it is enough of a pea under the mattress to warrant yet more days off. [Images here, if you want the not very gory details.]

None of this has been serious. All of it has kept Rodney out of work. Do they plan it this way?

As for his trailer issues [Trailer Training], Precious Prince Snowflake Cupcake will load and stand, but is clearly miserable and panics at the first hint of confinement. I’m pondering our next step.

Sigh. Or is the sigh implied when dealing with Rodney?

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott


I’ve mentioned it passing [CAA Repercussions]. I want to state it outright. We have solved Milton’s NQR. (Greg modifies this with – to the extent one ever can with a horse. He doesn’t want Milton to feel the need to rise to a challenge.)

For years we’ve been wondering if Milton is Not Quite Right. The problem is the “quite”. Not right is easy. Lame. Losing weight. Radical behavior change. These are easy to spot. Diagnosis might be problematic, but you know you are looking for the root of a problem. We didn’t even know if there was a problem to find the root of.

The answer is Alabama.

But seriously folks. Current thinking is that something in our grass/soil/whatever either caused or aggravated a hind gut ulcer. Was it a serious problem? No. Is he a drama queen? Yes. It was just enough to make him a little bit cranky, degrade his movement, make him a little bit touchy.

Would he have been 100% way back when if we’d gone straight to this [Sand Colic]? Who knows. Perhaps some of the other stumbles of our drunkard’s walk took care of other issues. I know Fairy Godmother has been wondering what we did to the nice horse she sent down. Well, we finally found that horse.

Now – cross fingers – Milton’s only problems will come as a result of being a green racehorse owned by amateurs. That was also the case with Previous Horse, and he didn’t have a bad life.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott