Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hoof boots or Bust!!!!

So far, we have not been successful at getting a good fit for JB in the Easy boot Gloves. I have ordered two fit Kit’s and now waiting for my third. I will have tried every combination of boot size available in the fit kit once that third one arrives. I certainly didn’t intend for this boot business to become this complicated, that’s for sure!

In my defense, the second fit kit that was shipped to me was not the fit Kit I thought I had ordered but nonetheless, I am now waiting for the last and final fit kit for the 0.5 to arrive. I am not holding out much hope that these will be a good fit but if I don’t try I will always wonder. To add to the dilemma, if he does happen to fit in the 0.5, they are out of stock until atleast March 20 on that size. Hmph… just my luck , right?

For those of you that are out there that ride horses that don’t have a typical foot and are considering the Glove, Here is what I have found with the fit kits for the Glove for JB:

The Size 1 fit width quite well but was too long.
The size 0 was way too narrow but the length was a good fit.
The size 00.5 was too small everywhere.

The 0.5- might just do the trick.. I will keep you posted on that. I am sure by now, the folks at Easy care think I have lost my mind ….

While this process has been exceedingly frustrating because I can’t ride JB until I have something that will work (and the conditioning clock is ticking for the Oreana ride), this has also has been an extremely educational process.

What does this tell me?

What I am seeing is that these boots seem to be made for a fairly straight walled horse. JB has very round hooves and to add to that they are on the small size (maybe not for his body size but I would much rather have seen him develop a bigger hoof). I will have to get some photos of his feet to post. Maybe over the weekend.

With any length on his toe, JB tends to get ,what I refer to as, platter-like hooves. He also tends to get heels that get a bit under run. In the last 6 months, Tom and I have been quite proactive with his trimming schedule to try to get this under some control. Most of our other horses can go 6-8 weeks in between trims without any trouble. With JB, it’s a different story. We have had to rasp on him every 2-3 weeks to begin to correct some of these natural occurring phenomenons in his feet. As a result, we are seeing some great progress, finally some positive changes in his hoof that previously we weren’t seeing at the 6-8 week intervals. The concavity is starting to develop in his sole, his bars are becoming well defined and beginning to support him. He is developing a much better callous on his toe than we have been able to get in the past and we have been pretty successful in getting his heels to come back where they should be. That last part has been the biggest struggle but I am already seeing him travel at liberty much better. He is reaching much better and is landing much closer to a heel first. We still have room for improvement but baby steps!! Right? I guess the trick with JB is that he needs trimming much more frequent than our other guys. That being said, I suppose I had better learn to get good with a rasp..

Tom has always done the trimming and shoeing on our horses. He had the good fortune to spend quite a bit of time with a natural balance trained farrier many years ago (before natural balance was the “thing”) and has used it ever since on all of our horses. So why did we run into so many troubles with JB’s feet. Over the last several months we have been pouring over our various Ovincek books, videos , notes, and other resources related to natural balance trimming, trying to figure out if we had been doing something wrong. Is there something different that we were missing? The one definitive difference that we could come up with was that there wasn’t enough focus on trim of the heel. Tom tended to be bit conservative with taking heel which could have been causing too much length An 1/8 of an inch is a lot on a small hoof like JB’s..Other than that, there isn’t much that changed in how he was trimming versus how he is trimming today with JB. We have been more consistent with the trimming schedule which seems to be making a big difference for JB.

One other possibility I could attribute all of this to might be during the very early stages of our conditioning start up last year, I was riding JB barefoot. We were only going on slow easy rides but much of it was on hard, sometimes gravely ground. My guess is that he got sore heels or soles at that time. While it was only a couple of weeks of riding him barefoot before I put shoes on him, maybe the damage had already been set in motion. Then, after we put shoes on him, he ended up then getting a stone bruise during our first limited distance and it just escalated from there.

It anever ceases to amaze me that when you have horses, it’s a constant learning adventure. Since I can’t go back in time and can only look to the horizons ahead I will try on the 0.5 , see if that works and if not, move on to the next thing. Feeling a bit pressed for time in sorting all of this hoof protection out, I have also gone ahead and sized JB for the Easy Care Epic boot. They should be here any day. I am not giving up yet on keeping him barefoot! I considered the Easy Boot Bare but was told that the bare was the most difficult boot in the Easy care line up to put on due to it being very stiff. I didn’t really want to deal with that. On the other hand, the Epic, while still stiff, is less so than the bare. It seems like maybe the Epics might work better for JB. At this point, I have nothing to lose!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Season Preparation

What's this??? Read below for more details...

I have started riding around our pasture and that will have to suffice until I get boots figured out for horses, (hopefully next week). A half hour or 40 minutes of walking and trotting is better than nothing. It is driving me a bit crazy but there isn't much I can do , so instead I am working down the list of various to do's prior to the season. One of those things included organizing tack, getting new halters, reorganizing bridle set ups and cleaning tack to help pass the time and keep me focused on something productive.

Tom makes all of our rope halters and is quite talented with knot tying. Since all of the halters we are currently using are old and looking kind of ratty, we decided to finally pull out the reems of rope we have been collecting for this very occasion. Now, each horse has thier own color coordinated halter. Pictured below is Cassidy's halter with an additional picture of the fancier know he tied one end off with, known as a Turk's head.

In addition to tying his own halters, Tom also picked up learning how to make his own bridles out of rope as well. They are really nice and lightweight, and better yet, I can throw them in the washing machine and they clean up very well. There is no hardware on these, just rope and leather. I know that the Beta bridles and gear are pretty popular but since I like to be a bit different and I already these anyways, I thought they might be useful for endurance riding with a bit of a modification. These are a bit fancier and are fashioned after a more traditional western look , typically having the mecate rein attached.

Since I plan to condition and participate in a couple of rides with Rebel this season, I had Tom modify by removing the Mecate rein attachment. The additional Mecate rein is nice but adds another 10 feet of rope to manage. I seem to be rope challenged and end up tangling myself in most cases! Without the extra rope, it makes it much more user friendly , atleast for me! You can see in the photo that there is some hand braiding on the rings on the cheek pieces . This is kangarood lace that Tom hand plated. Cassidy's is white with black and Rebel's is green. I think Rebel looks rather dashing with the kangaroo lace that matches his hair! See Rebel's photo at the top of this post.

JB also has one of these in black and red which looks really flashy on him but we save that for special occasions! JB's endurance bridle is a simple leather headstall with rope reins and slobber straps.

Once I had final adjustments on the fit for Rebel's bridle, I just couldn't resist hopping on bareback to try it out. Ofcourse, when the photo was snapped (top of page) I was just asking for a stop and back. Not an ideal shot but I was so pleased that Rebel was feeling better . It was only days before and I wasn't sure I would ever get to ride him again. I think the smile speaks for itself!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Easy Boot Gloves- Round Two..

Round 2- Easy Boot Glove

Based on the measurements I took of JB’s feet prior to ordering the Fit Kit from Easy Care, he calculated out to approx 117 mm. (4 5/8 for the fronts and 4 ½ on the hinds). A size 1.5 Fit kit should have been the ticket. Included in that kit are size 1, size 1.5 and size 2 boot to give the best possible fit.

Thursday night was fit kit night at Acer Farm. Since I wanted the best possible fit , and JB was due for his two week touch up with the rasp anyways, Tom gave him a pedicure before slipping on the ruby slippers . I knew the 2 was definitely out just looking at it. The 1.5 also proved to be too big so last chance was the 1.0. Much to my disappointment, it was also too big for the Peanut. The good news was that the shape of JB’s feet seemed to work well with the glove. We just had to get a smaller size boot.

I wondered how could these be so off in the size when we carefully measured? I know JB has small feet but I never imagined they were this small!! We remeasured and it was exactly the same numbers as previous.

Just for fun and to have a comparison, I pulled Rebel out of the pasture, who was also freshly trimmed up and tried the boots on him. He has what I would consider a more “normal” sized hoof. I tried on the 1.5 on his feet and found these were also too big on him as well. I was surprised by that. The size 1 did appear to be a better fit, but still not as snug of a fit as the sizing instructions suggests it should be. I could see that they would not stay on well. The V on the front of the boot was not expanding much and the picture with the instructions pamphlet showed a much more distinct separation of the “V” than what the boot was doing on Rebel’s hoof. Rebel also has a bit of a wing on the outside of his front hoof that we are slowly working on improving so this seemed to be causing a bit of a poor fit. I will keep that fit kit for two more weeks and after another trim, see if the size 1 boot works any better. If not, I could see him potentially dropping down to a size 0.

Ok, so maybe my measurements weren’t off. Maybe the sizing charts for these boots are a bit on the generous side? So, today I ordered the size “0” kit which will include 0.5, 0, 00.5 size boots . These sizes should reveal better fitting results. I also talked to Marci at Easy Care about my fitting woes. She double checked my measurement conversion to millimeters and came up with the same numbers. She was also puzzled as to why I did not get a better fit. Guess JB really is my misfit!!

Well, I am not sure how other folks are doing out there with the fit kits but I am entering round two and keeping my fingers crossed that one of the boots in the smaller kit will do the trick for JB!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


The fit kit I ordered for the Easy boot glove arrived today and I was quite happy to see it.It included three sample boot sizes based off of the measurements I took of JB's feet. He measured as a 1.5 so in the kit, they send a 1, 1.5 and a 2 for trying on. There is a lot weighing on these boots at this point, JB's conditioning schedule for one. I can't ride JB on the road until I either get him in boots or if that doesn't work, I will have to go back to pads and shoes.

Keep your fingers crossed that these will work with his hoof shape and I won't have to go the shoe route.

Now you all know what I will be doing just as soon as I can be home in time to have some decent light!!

I will keep you posted!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Rebel Update and other News

Just a quick update. Yesterday afternoon things were still kind of on the wire with Rebel. He wasn't improving as I had hoped but he wasn't getting worse either. He was still eating relatively well but lethargic and not really perking up. He passed two small manure piles yesterday , both of which were dry. I decided, against my vets advice (which I didn't understand her reasoning behind anyways) to go ahead and whip up a batch of sloppy beet pulp because he clearly wasn't drinking enough.

By 7:00 last night, more manure and another round of beet pulp, this time with electrolytes. By 10:00 last night he has two really good sized piles of manure , not near as dry and I saw him take a big sip of water.


This morning, more beet pulp with electrolytes to encourage a thirst response.

I think by this evening he can go back to the other pasture and I won't have to monitor so closely.

The other news is related to the Easy Care Gloves. I did an earlier post on this that you can find here. I had ordered the Easy Care Fit Kit and was patiently (maybe not so!) for the shipment to arrive that apparently was delayed on the slow boat from China. Well I received a call on Wednesday that the fit kits ship out today. WOOHOO!!

Now, hopefully they will work with JB's feet and with any liuck the size JB needs won't be on back order for 6 more weeks!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Colic Strikes

It all started with a simple trip to the vet on Tuesday to have Rebels sheath cleaned. He had developed some swelling and with the temperature being on the cold side, I didn’t want him to suffer through me trying to clean him up without the use of a warm room. Little did I know that 24 hours later, when I arrived home from work, we would be rushing back to the vet with him .

Over the last 14 years of owning Rebe , I think he was sick once. Rebel is my tough guy horse and doesn't typically have any health issues. I knew when he came trotting up to the fence with a look of worry on his face something was off. When I threw feed at him and the other horses and he stood away from the pile pawing with his nose on the ground, I was pretty sure I knew what was going on. Rebel never turns away food. Seeing the "glazed over in pain" look in his eyes confirmed my suspicions.

When it comes to colic, Tom calls me the pro. I don't know if that's a good thing because unfortunately the only way to get good at recognizing colic typically only happens when you have had past bad experience.
I had a TB mare that I dealt with colic on a routine basis, atleast 3 times a year or more. I even put the mare through surgery, only to find out when the vet opened her up, that at some point in time, some previous owner had already put this mare through atleast one other colic surgery. Regardless, she came out of the surgery relatively well and I nursed her back to health , only to lose her to colic in the long run anyways. For four years I dealt with the ups and downs of a horse prone to colic. You never rest when you have a horse like that and you are always worried. Over the years, I got pretty good at picking up on the slightest cue that a colicky horse may give off. Granted , each horse can display their symptoms different but there is a look that horses get in their eye that is telling.

With Rebel, off his feed , pawing at the ground and stretching is enough for me…Having been gone all day , I didn’t know how long he may have been having trouble. Tom was home earlier in the day and noticed he was laying down but so were the other horses. It wasn’t really a red flag for him. At the same time , Rebel doesn’t usually lay down much. he is the one that stands guard typically when the other lay down.

It had been several years that I have had to deal with a colicky horse but just the same, my mind kicked into gear the well known routine. I grabbed the stethoscope and starting listening for gut sounds. Pretty quiet all the way around. This isn’t good. Rebel continuedd to stretch and paw at the ground. I grabbed his halter and started walking him. In the meantime, Tom put a call into the vet emergency response line and within about a half hour, we were get ting the truck and trailer hooked up to head to the vet.

Thanks to Toms excellent ability to back a trailer into a tight spot, I had about a 3 foot patch of ground that wasn't a sheet of ice, that I could safely load Rebel into the trailer from. The next challenge was the roads. The snow was coming down pretty good and the roads were slicker than snail snot. To top it off, our trailer lights decided to not work consistently on the trip there, (note to self, new plug in for the trailer) so it looked like we had our flashers on, which was fine. Kinda looked like a horse ambulance winding our way up the hills! We made it there safely, only barely missing a herd of deer who decided to have a rendezvous in the middle of the icey roads on a blind corner.. STUPID DEER! For a moment, I thought that we were going to be loading up a wounded deer to bring to the vet as well but we lucked out and they were all able to scramble out of the way in just a moments time.

To my delight, when we arrived, Rebel had passed two good sized piles of manure, a bit on the dry side but manure nonetheless. That meant there was some movement in his gut. A small sigh of relief. A trailer ride will almost always help a colicky horse, unless you have a twisted gut on your hands.

We unloaded him and the initial rectal exam revealed no indication of a twist and much more dry manure in his colon. Gut sounds were quiet in the upper quadrants but improved in the lower from when I had listened before. We gave him a dose of banamine for some pain relief from the obvious spasms he was having and tubed him with warm water in his gut to get some added motility. His temp and pulse were within normal range.. second sign of relief . He also didn't seem to be dehydrated and his CRT was good. Then, we waited... and waited...

We waited to see if the tubing was going to make any changes and while we waited; we discussed what happened. As with any colic, the question of why? What changed? What caused this. As most of you know, the person that could answer that question in regards to colic would be a rich person.

I was pretty certain that this episode of colic was not his diet. Could he have gotten some moldy hay? Doubtful and he shares hay with 3 other horses. They all play musical hay piles and no one else had any symptoms..I felt pretty positive that I could rule out feed as a culprit. He does not receive grain.

Since his manure was relatively dry, that indicated lack of water. The vet mentioned that sometimes when a horse has been given Ace as a tranquilizer, (from his sheath cleaning) they don’t always drink enough when they are coming out of it. That could have been it. Not enough water. Will I ever know for sure? probably not ; but when nothing else changed and I rule out everything that is left, it seemed like the lack of water consumption was the most likely explanation. I also double checked the tank heaters to make sure they were sending off a trickle charge, keeping the horses from drinking… the heaters were fine.

20 minutes after tubing him with about 1 gallon of water, I heard a belly rumble from across the room. AHA!! the water was starting to move things . Then Rebel let out a big groan. Vet said he noticed when he put the tube into his stomach, there was quite a bit of gas so it was likely that Rebel might feel some discomfort over the next several hours as the gas worked through his intestine. We checked vitals once more and all seemed normal. We decided we could probably take him home. He looked a lot brighter and it sounded like the gut was moving again.

I knew I might be in for a long night. When we got him home, we isolated him in a corral by himself so I could watch for manure and water intake. Every couple of hours I was up, keeping a watchful eye. At one point I became concerned because he was down again and was laying flat out. I could also tell had been rolling judging from the snow on the blanket I had on him. The vet said he would probably display some signs of ongoing discomfort because of the gas and spasms . I was glad he mentioned this because I almost called again but decided to watch for a bit first. Luckily, after about 10 minutes of being down, Rebel got up and started picking through the snow looking for leftover hay. I wouldn’t be able to feed him until morning but this was a good sign.

So far, he hasn't laid down again, hasn't rolled and hasn't stretched out or pawed at the ground. He ate a small helping of hay and at 9:00 this morning he passed a small pile of dry manure. Still no interest in water however. I called the vet and she did not want me to give him any soaked beet pulp, which I was surprised by. Most of the morning he has been munching on his hay but certainly doesn't have the gusto of his regular appetite. Nonetheless he is eating. His gut sounds appear to be active. All good signs that we are headed in the right direction.

So, today will be spent watching him and making sure he doesn't slip backwards. I may opt to give the beet pulp regardless if he doesn't drink soon. That will atleast keep some water in the gut. With my mare that I mentioned earlier, as soon as she was interested in eating after an episode of colic, the vet wanted her to have beet pulp.

Sometimes, with colic, it can seem like all systems are go and then right before your eyes, they can take a downward spiral in a heartbeat. Keep your fingers crossed for us!! And I will keep you posted on his progress.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Incredible Hulk

For those of us with stallions it’s that time of year to be thinking about advertising. Last year, I took a risk and advertised in the Rocky Mountain Rider for JB. It is supposed to be one of the few marketing horse publications that is for “all-breeds” but it doesn’t take long to see that the majority of it is Quarter Horses. There are a few gaited breeds that advertise and a few Morgans, Arabians, but mostly Quarter Horses. I knew in the back of my mind that it would be an uphill battle competing for mares against all the fancy sliding stop reining Quarter Horse stallions that advertise in that publication, but , I did it just the same, thinking atleast it might get him some visibility in the marketplace. To my surprise, it did generate a few calls, but no actual solid bookings transpired from it. I did get a number of calls from people wanting me to buy their mustang mares, which ofcourse I politely turned down. I half wondered if there was an editing goof in my ad that I missed that was reading “Wanted: mares to buy” !?! Maybe one just assumes that since I have a stallion, I most certainly am in the market for mares!! I even got a few calls from people just wanting to ask questions about what a Barb was and how I found him and some people just called to tell me what a handsome guy he was. I appreciated those calls and like any proud mom, I gloated… but just a little !

So, what does all this have anything to do with the Green Hulk Halter? I am getting there I promise....

Since I advertised last year, I have been getting inundated with marketing attempts by RMR to advertise again, I will tell you if you want a good penpal, advertise with them. I have decided not to advertise JB for breeding services this year at all, as much as RMR has tried to reel me with their great rates for 2009/2010, I have decided to forego the advertising. Mostly because the market is in the tank and like last year, I will focus his energy on his endurance conditioning. The fact that I don't have a breeding program and I am not advertising for breeding might lead one to ask, "why keep him a stud?" , a question that I find myself considering carefully but at this time he will remain in tact.

On that subject of him remaining a stallion without a breeding program in place, I have even been told by a few folks that I should geld him because people who own stallions should arrange things so that their stallion breeds atleast once during a breeding season and that to make him go through a season without breeding is cruel and that it's bad for stallion and his frame of mind …. Uh hem ,.. to hold all that in…. or something along those lines??? ….

Well, I don’t know how true any of that is but I guess I am willing to risk being ridiculed as an irresponsible Stallion owner in some eyes I guess. Personally, I think it's a bit over the top because quite frankly, JB doesn't seem to know the difference and he certainly isn’t acting any different…In fact, people are usually very complimentary of his behaviour out in public, if they even realize he is a stallion.

So, if I am not breeding him regularly to keep his metal state in check, why is it that I can pretty much treat him like just another gelding? Maybe , just maybe, it has something to do with some policies we have in place.

Enter Stage Right: The Incredible Hulk Halter

I figured out sometime ago that horses are pretty specific animals. When I worked on a big Arabian breeding farm growing up in CT, every stallion had two sets of halters. One for regular work /training or turn out and one for breeding. The studs got to know the difference pretty quick as you might imagine. I instilled this policy when JB was young and had his first date. From the first time he covered a mare, he got his very own breeding halter. His regular everyday “work” halter is a black rope halter. For his breeding halter, I chose the loudest, brightest color of rope that I could find, which happened to also be on sale at the time. It was a bright neon green. I realized after the fact that horses can’t see green but no one has been able to confirm that with neon colors. We kept the halter just the same and JB does seem to know the difference. The name the “ Incredible Hulk Halter” came about in part because of the color and the fact that JB does appear to suddenly transform into the horse version of the adrenaline super power when he slips on his Neon Green Halter.

So, the green halter stays quietly waiting in a safe place until required. Otherwise, it's plain old black, and with that just another day of work for JB.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Flight of the Killer Bumble Bee

Today, while I was on the second floor of my house, perched on a ladder , cleaning windows, I happened to look down to admire the geldings running past. I had noticed a dirt bike rider going up and down the road a few minutes earlier and wanted to go out to check on things. JB absolutely hates dirt bikes, scared to death and he can get to running. Given the ice, I didn't want anyone running..Well, I should have gone out earlier because as I looked down at the geldings running past....Roman, Brego, Cassidy, Rebel,.. and JB??? OH NO! JB is with the geldings in their pasture.

How I came off that ladder without killing myself, Tom or the cat I will never know. Tom ran out the front door and I ran to the grab my boots and a halter. My heart jumped as images of horses getting kicked or going through the fence, slipping and breaking a leg on the ice ran through my mind... I had to hurry. All bets that the motorcycle had sent him through or over his fence, seeking safety with his herd. Damn dirt biker...

Well, by the time I got out there, things were, to my surprise, pretty well under control. I stopped and watched for a moment. JB was going nose to nose with all the other boys and no one was making much of a fuss..Given the fact that my stallion doesn't typically have quite this much contact with the geldings and he was acting like one of the herd, was really satisfying.

Tom and I have been considering giving this a try anyways since he used to run with the geldings until he got to playing too rough at the age of 4. I just hate keeping him separated and have considered gelding him for this reason alone. So I was very happy to see that it may just be a possibility yet. As soon as the footing is safe, I might just try to reintegrate him into the herd now that I can see they seemed to be holding their own.

I decided to catch Jb up just the same for now and put him back in one of the corrals nearer to the house, given the footing. As we walked back to the corrals, he was getting more and more worked up the closer we got to where he had just run from, knowing there was still something over there that might just kill him. As we walked past one of the iced over areas in the pasture, one the geldings knew to avoid but JB did not. I noticed he had run across and fallen.

We finally got back to the corrals and JB was a ball of nerves, still blowing and snorting and hyper vigilant to his surroundings. , still looking for the motorcylce , aka the killer bumble bee. I looked him over as I talked to him quietly and his breathing eventually started to slow.

JB did have some hide missing from the front of his right shoulder but it looked more like a kick. I put some gop on it. It wasn't deep and only toook the hair and a maybe a thin layer of skin. Probably stung but he was not bleeding and would most likely live. Other than his nerves being frayed and a scrape, he was fine. I threw some hay in front of him and checked on him repeatedly. Pretty soon the geldings made their way back over to the corral area and stuck around, as if to offer comfort from across the fence. It seemed to work and pretty soon JB was looking less tense and scared.

All afternoon I listed for the dirt biker and I finally got my wish. He came back up the road flying by , revving the engine and over all making a lot of noise. He drove by and I suspected he would turn around , like he had been doing earlier, and come back by.I ran out to the road and stopped him on his return trip. My instinct was to rip him off the bike and throw him in the snow and then proceed to shoot holes in his bike but sanity won out. I asked him , politely , if he would mind slowing it down and explained that my horse had spooked earlier and run through the fence as a result of the racket he was making with his dirt bike. Surprisingly, he apologized and seemed quite sincere and said he would take it easier when he came by our place. Honestly , I hadn't expected him to be as nice as he was but was quite thankful. I didn't see or hear that bike the rest of the afternoon and JB was able to eat his afternoon meal in peace.

I don't know what I will do if I meet one of these on the road someday. JB isn't afraid of too many things but dirt bikes, they are the devil themselves in his eyes!