Sunday, July 28, 2013

how to lead your horse to water AND (probably) make him drink: a giveaway!

Each day when I clean Lucy's stall, I check how much water she drank the night before. Many days, the answer is "hardly any". It freaks me out!! I've already dealt with one impaction colic with Lucy, shortly after I bought her, and I have been a crazy water lady ever since.

One way I get extra water into her is soaking her dinner, and trust me, it gets soaked thoroughly. She happily eats whatever I put in front of her face, so that's nice, but how nice would it be if she also drank a bit of water?

Recently I tried a new product called Equine Aid. It's made by a relatively new company based out of California. The product is a powdered supplement that you add to your horse's water to encourage them to drink. It has powdered alfalfa and Himalayan rock salt, along with some other tasty ingredients. It comes in pre-measured packets and the idea is that you add one packet to each 5 gallon bucket to entice your horse to drink the water.

The company offered to send me some samples, so I decided to give it a try. I supplied Lucy with one regular bucket and one got a packet of Equine Aid added to it. The first night, Lucy completely ignored it. She didn't drink any of the Equine Aid water, and she also didn't drink any water out of her other bucket. I re-used that water the second night, since it was untouched. She drank half of the Equine Aid bucket, and about 1/4 of the normal bucket. On night #3, I added a packet of the Equine Aid into her dinner, which she gobbled up. The company's owner recommended I try this so she gets a "taste" for the supplement. On the final night, she drank 2/3 of the Equine Aid bucket and only a small amount of the regular bucket. I felt encouraged!

I think this would be great to add to water at shows, or if you move your horse to a new barn and they have to get accustomed to new water. It will mask any small changes in taste of the water, while also encouraging the horse to stay hydrated. I think it's a great idea for a helpful product and if you have a picky drinker, or a horse that doesn't always like to drink at shows, consider giving this a try.

A word of caution to owners with horses who have insulin resistance or other dietary restrictions: this product does have a small amount of brown sugar in it. Luckily Lucy is free to inhale as many cookies, sugar cubes, etc as she wants so that wasn't an issue for us!

Equine Aid is sponsoring a giveaway for us, and five winners will each receive five packets of Equine Aid. To enter, leave a comment with your name, email address, and why you'd like to try this product. Good luck! Contest ends Thursday, August 1st at 5pm.

If you'd like to read more about the company and their products, visit their website at

Thursday, July 25, 2013

I need to invest in some sunglasses to be able to look at this horse.

Just in the past month, Lucy has gone from this:

To this:

raw sienna
honey mustard

look at the stark difference between the hair just below her mane,
and the crest of her neck.

her back; you can see where she was clipped for her ultrasound on July 1st
Well, beautiful dapples, it was nice knowing you, I guess! :(

love her no matter what colour she is :)
Her dramatic colour change, combined with the fact that not one single other horse at the barn looks like it has gotten even remotely sunbleached, led me to post on COTH (I know, I know) to ask a question.

Low and behold, sunbleaching is a result of certain colour genetics. After doing some additional research, I am wondering if Lucy is actually a "seal brown", not a "bay". Some seal bay traits that she has are the lighter areas behind her shoulders, in front of her hips, and up around her ears on her head. She also isn't very red at all, like Maddy's horse Brantley. He is a beautiful rich mahogany bay colour. She is more brown with black points.

I could get her colour tested through genetic analysis for $25, and I may do that since I have spent $25 on more ridiculous things than that in my lifetime. :)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Polo! Newport vs. Spain

Yesterday some friends and I went down to watch the polo game in Newport. The weather had been iffy all day but all we got were a few sprinkles right as the match started. Lauren and Dan brought homemade chili, and I made some great sangria and some sandwiches. Another friend of mine, Wendy, brought hummus and chips, and we all had the best time hanging out, chatting, and watching the game.

I loved this grey

the group, plus Cairo!

Friday, July 19, 2013

newsflash: the horse is fine

Well I am sure glad I didn't ship her off to Tuft's (again), because Lucy is just fine! I didn't do anything with her at all on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday because I wanted to let her newest boo-boo get a good scab going.

On Thursday I put her on the lunge like and surprise! Not a gimpy step to be found.

cruising along

Today I didn't do anything with her because I was so hot after cleaning her stall and the paddock that I just wanted to go home and crawl into the refrigerator.

So that's where we are at! Thanks for all the helpful and supportive comments - I am glad she's fine and this wasn't another setback. I just want to RIDE already!

Oh, and we never found that acupuncture needle, so it will remain a mystery.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

how fun!

Ya know, I was really starting to enjoy my daily horsey routine again. It involved no cleansing of wounds, no wrapping, no buting or Ace-ing or any vet care of any kind! I got to see my lovely horse trot around on the lunge line and then I got to put her away in her stall and feed her dinner. It was peaceful, easy, and I was happy to be working toward a goal with her.


She was running to get away from one of the huge "bomber" flies. To her credit, those things HURT when they bite. They have knife-like jaws and take a chunk out of the flesh that then bleeds and swells to the size of a marble. So I imagine that in her mind, this was a reasonable response. In my mind, though, I was seeing her slip and fall and hurt her back again. Luckily, that did not happen but by the time I got out there she had kicked herself somehow and sustained this lovely cut down the lower half of her pastern into her hoof. She actually damaged the hoof wall and there is a little slice in her foot. Now, a hoof takes about a year to totally grow out so I will get to look at the evidence of this incident for the next 12 months, give or take.

She wasn't lame at first and then I cleaned it really well (aka scrubbed it) and after that, she was like, OW! OW! OW! each time she stepped on that foot. This all happened on Monday morning, the morning after my friend's horse was euthanized, and honestly I did not have the energy to deal with it. I gave her some bute, cleaned it up real well, and called it a day.

Yesterday, she looked much better and didn't seem bothered by it, but given its location I started to feel like maybe it deserved a bit more worry from me, so I sent my vet a photo of it. The vet called and basically scared the crap out of me talking about infection in the coffin bone, referring us to Tuft's, etc. I kept saying, but she isn't lame on it! So the vet gave me a list of signs to watch out for and said to call back if she seems to take a turn for the worst. In the mean time, I have to clean it, doctor it up with some Neosporin, and wrap it each day.

OH HEY! How fun. I had just put away all of my vet stuff that was hanging out in the barn aisle and here I was dragging it all back out again. I guess I jinxed myself!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

the kindest thing

My friend's beautiful, sweet Morgan mare "S" colicked badly late on Sunday night and her husband called me and asked me to come to the barn to be with her for when the vet came. I rushed over and when I got there, the mare was down in a paddock, rolling and in distress. My friend had already decided she was going to have her mare euthanized. She had a long history of various ailments and this had been in the plans for a while, but of course not on these terms. Still, given S's history and the amount of pain she was in, my friend opted to do the kindest thing for her. We let her stay down because she was being quiet and seemed comfortable. We spent some time brushing her, stroking her soft nose, and scratching her favourite scratchy spot behind her withers.

The vet took quite a long time to get there and at one point, S decided she wanted to get up, so we got her walking. My friend had given her Banamine when she first found her down, and I suspect the Banamine had started to kick in and help some of the discomfort. She did go back down a few times and roll but we always got her back up.

As we walked, we talked about my friend's best memories of this lovely mare. S was a sassy mare with a kind and patient disposition. They had done lots of fun things together, the best of which were the hunter paces they attended. They had also done dressage and some breed shows but overall they had enjoyed spending time together. As S got older, she developed tendon problems and also had some breathing issues so she enjoyed a quiet retirement.

The vet finally arrived and did a quick assessment. She agreed that my friend had S's best interests in mind and went to her truck to prepare the drugs. My friend decided she did not want to be around for the euthanasia, and spent a final few minutes stroking S's muzzle and telling her she was loved. Then she handed me the lead rope and I stayed with S for the rest of it.

When my friend went back into the barn, S laid back down on her own accord, which made the vet's work very easy. She passed away peacefully as I held her head and stroked her cheek. She was graceful and dignified until the end.

On Monday morning, I called out of work. I was at the barn almost before the sun was up, after getting about two hours of sleep, to meet the company that came to deal with S's body. I had told my friend I'd be there to make sure she was handled gently and with respect. The company was wonderful and did a very good job.

I had taken her halter off after the vet finished, and it was covered in sand and dirt from her rolling. I didn't want to give it to my friend all dirty like that so I did quite possibly the most thorough and professional tack cleaning job I have ever done, and that halter's soft leather gleamed when I was finished. I also had cut some of S's tail for my friend to have, with her permission, and it was very dirty. I tied a rubber band tightly at the top of it, filled a bucket with some water and shampoo and gently dipped the tail hair in it to clean it. I let it air dry and then picked the remaining leaves out of it. I gently brushed it out, being very careful to hold it tightly with one hand so that I didn't pull it out of the rubber band. When I was finished it looked beautiful and now her owner can have it to either have a bracelet or Raku pottery piece made. S really had a gorgeous tail!

This is the second time I have done this for a friend. Though it is very hard, I am honoured that I was asked to be there both times. What a wonderful thing to be able to do for a friend, and also for the horse. Both times I've done this, the horses have passed away peacefully with dignity, and neither have felt alone. I would like to imagine that if I ever had to put a horse down, that it would go as well as S went. I honestly don't know if I would stay for my own horse; I'd like to think I would but I guess I won't know how strong I am until faced with that. If I can't do it, though, I hope someone will be there to hold her and stroke her kissy spot on her nose.

Today I am feeling quite sad about the whole thing, which I guess is to be expected. I hope S is running around pain-free in Pony Heaven.

Monday, July 15, 2013

photo weekend extravaganza

I had a very busy, but very fun weekend driving around Massachusetts doing photoshoots. Here are some of the photos!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Product Review: SmartPak Deluxe Fly Boots

SmartPak Deluxe Fly Boots
Retail Cost: $39.95
Price I paid: $20.66 (I had a $15.00 coupon, got 10% off for being a SmartPak customer, and an additional 5% off for being a USEF member)

Summer is a tough time for Lucy's already kind of crappy feet. We have extremely humid weather and this year we have also gotten a lot of rain. On top of that, the bugs are horrendous and she stands in the paddock all day stomping at flies. The flies started to come out in early April and by mid-May, her front feet were already crumbling. I had to have the farrier out to reset her shoes after less than four weeks last cycle, and he was alarmed at how poorly her hooves held up. She's already on an oral hoof supplement but she obviously needed additional support to maintain her hoof health.

I ordered the SmartPak Deluxe Fly Boots from SP and they arrived a day or so later. Out of the box, they were thicker than I thought they'd be, but they looked nice and were easy to put on and take off. She's been wearing them for just over a week now. She ripped one of the hind boots pretty badly within 24 hours of wearing it, and Maddy said that when she tried putting the hind boots on, Lucy kicked her legs so she just left them off. She's wearing the front boots every day in turnout and I take them off when I bring her in for the night. Besides her destroying one of the hind boots, they are holding up well. I was worried they would be too hot on her legs, but each day when I take them off her legs seem cool and dry. On days when they get really muddy, I spray them with the hose and hang them to dry overnight but beyond that have not put them through a wash cycle.

I was also a little concerned about them rubbing her legs, but they are very soft and have fleece lining on all the seams.

My farrier was at the barn to do Charlie's feet today, and he checked on Lucy's to make sure the nails were still tight. She's had her new shoes on for about a week and a half and he was very happy with how her feet are looking. I've spent some time just watching her in the paddock and she isn't stomping hardly at all compared to how bad it was before she started wearing the boots.

she's back to her old ghetto fabulous fly mask with the holes in the ears
 because the nice new embroidered one I bought her keeps falling off her face.

oh well, I tried!

on pins and needles

Lucy had her weekly acupuncture appointment on Wednesday and kind of had a breakthrough: she actually stood there and let the vet put the needles in without any meltdowns. We did the session in her stall, instead of out in the barn driveway/yard area where we usually do it. She tends to take advantage of the space out there and run in circles, acting like a total fool. I had her in her stall with her butt backed up into a corner and her whole demeanour was different; she realised she really couldn't get out of it this time! HA.

Anyway, the needles all went in great and without much fanfare as I said. Three needles in all; we didn't want to push our luck too much. Two went in her neck on either side where the shoulder slope meets the side of the neck, and the third went in her SI area. She stood there and looked chill, tried to groom me a bit, ate some hay, and the vet and I chatted about how much of a PITA refinancing your house is. Then I looked at Lucy and realised one of the needles had fallen out of her neck. I had no idea at what point this happened, but we had been chatting as she ate her hay, right below her neck area, for at least 20 minutes. This teeny tiny acupuncture needle had fallen into a haystack that my horse had been eating from. INSTANT panic rose in my chest though I kept it calm on the outside. I pulled all of her uneaten hay out of her stall and shook it out, piece by piece, hoping that the needle would materialize. The needles had little plastic handles on them, but they were a golden orange/yellow colour and of course that would blend in perfectly with the hay. I didn't find it in the hay so I pulled her out of her stall and sifted through the bedding really well. No needle. I threw out a bunch of hay that had been below where the needle presumably fell.

Ironically I had gotten the vet a gift of a big magnet on a stick designed to pick up screws and nails at construction sites, because he had commented that he really needed one to find needles that fell more easily. We got the magnet and started passing it over the hay in the stall and it didn't come up with anything. It turns out the needles are magnetic, but only very slightly, so they won't be pulled through bedding or hay that's covering them. Maybe a metal detector would have been a better idea...sigh.

I looked at her and she looked back at me with her lovely soft eyes and I decided this was not a horse who was in any distress caused by eating a needle. I went home for a while, tried to eat some dinner, then went back to the barn around 11 to check on her. She seemed fine; had cleaned up a good amount of hay and eaten all of her dinner. The next morning I checked on her bright and early and once again she seemed totally normal.

I decided not to call my emergency vet unless she started showing symptoms of distress, because what were they really going to do? Come out and charge me an arm and a leg to tell me that the horse is normal? No thanks. I could have had them x-ray the entire length of her body, but again that seemed pretty outrageous since I didn't even know if she had eaten the needle.

It's been two days since the needle went missing and though I never found it, she also never showed any sign of pain or distress.

I guess for next week's appointment, we will do it in the stall again but I am going to take all of the hay out and also sweep her bedding back against the back wall so that we can find the needle if one falls again.

Friday, July 5, 2013

I am my horse's slave

This is Lucy's classic look. She has the softest eyes and tilts her head just enough to look so sweet and lovely, and though she's not the world's most snuggly horse, you'd never know it looking at her. It's almost like she's saying, "Oh please come snuggle with me!"

What she's really saying is "Soooo how about that treat in your pocket?"


Abraxas Equine Winners!

And the randomly chosen winners of the Abraxas Equine giveaway are...


TRACY from Fly on Over wins the shampoo!

MONICA from Chasing the Dream wins the liniment!!

I've emailed you both - if you don't receive it, let me know!

Thanks again to Abraxas Equine for sponsoring this giveaway, and if you didn't win, don't fret - you can still request free samples on their website (click here).

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Just call *yourself* Martha

Ok kids, here's how to make your own knock-off Pessoa Training Device.

Total cost for today's project was $7 for the rope from WalMart, $4 for the clips at Walmart, and $3 for the towel. I found that buying the rope in bulk at WalMart (or even Home Depot) was cheaper than buying it by the foot.

I tried to take a photo of each step but if anyone needs clarification, let me know.

All of the supplies, minus the towel

Step 1: measure about 40' of rope and cut off any excess. This particular package of rope was 50' long so I cut 10' off. Then I used a lighter to melt the end of the rope where I had cut it. The heat melted the nylon material and that will prevent unraveling in the future.

Find the middle of the rope and slide the spring clip on there.

Step 2: Tie a simple knot behind the spring clip to prevent it from moving in either direction.

Step 3: lay a blanket out on the floor and arrange the rope out on the blanket so you can get a good idea of proportions and sizing. The spring clip that you just tied a knot behind will go on the top of the surcingle just behind the horse's withers. Then the rope should go straight back to just above the horse's hocks, and then straight up to the horse's head. It should look like a backwards "C".

Step 3: Make the padded sleeve to go behind the horse's hocks. Now, there are a million ways you could do this. I found out that just a simple sleeve made from fleece will bunch up. For round 2, I used a towel with rolled-up fleece inside to give it a bit more rigidness.  Make sure to leave an opening that you can thread the rope through.

Step 4: thread the rope through the padded sleeve that you just made. Each end of the rope should pass through in opposite directions from the other end, if that makes sense. You should essentially make a figure 8 with the rope.

Here, one side of the rope has been threaded through, but the other side has not:

Step 5: After you get both ends threaded through the pad, lay everything out neatly so you can see where it's all at. The padded sleeve goes at the back of the horse.

Step 6: Thread the two swivel clips through the front ends, like this:

Step 7: Tie a sliding knot so that the length of the front pieces can be shortened or lengthened.

Close-up of sliding knots:

And that is it!

Now, go get your horse. Put a saddle pad and the surcingle on the horse like so:

That spring clip gets attached to the top of the surcingle:

The rope coming off of the spring clip goes around the horse's hips and then the padded sleeve rests on the tops of the hocks:

Lucy is endlessly patient with me.

You're almost done! Now the front end of the ropes come up the sides of the horse, and you thread the clips through the horse's halter or bit, and then clip them to the sides of the surcingle like this:

If your clips are too big to fit through the halter or bit, you can get two double-ended snaps and do this:

Top spring clip and the other end of the device, the swivel clip, attached to the side of the surcingle:

Again, showing how it all looks in the end

The shorter you make the front part of the device, the more "contact" it will have with your horse's face. You can also rig it in different ways to encourage the horse to stretch/collect/lower or raise the head carriage.

So due to Lauren and Maddy's interest in this gizmo, I am going to leave this one at the barn for them to use, but maybe in the future we will do another giveaway.