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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Stall Rest and rainy days.

Beamer got hurt. I have no idea how. He got a deep scrape high up on the inside of his right rear leg. Real high. Like just below the stifle high. There is nothing in the pasture or the barn that he could have scrapped it on. My only guess is that he got kicked. By Ebony. She has been asserting herself a bit lately and I saw her actually bite Beamer at feeding time the other day.

Well, B's leg was sore and the cut was a little deep so it was time for some antibiotic cream and a bandage. We got out the stuff and put a nice pad with antibiotic cream on it, wrapped that with brown cotton gauze and wrapped that with vet wrap. It looked pretty good. We stood back to admire our work and B picked up his leg. You know how they are, if there is something tight on their leg they have to pick up their leg and shake it. Our fine job of bandaging shot right down to his hock and stayed. Nuts. We tried again only this time we used tape to hold things in place. Again we stood back to admire our work (Kumi was helping) and again we failed miserably. Obviously I am a newbie to this whole horse ownership gig and my bandaging skills have not progressed. Frankly, I hope I don't have many opportunities to practice bandaging considering.

So we put B on stall rest for a couple of days. He wasn't real thrilled with the idea but what are you gonna do when somebody locks you into a stall? What was interesting is the other two horses. In one of my earlier posts I told you that we were trying to get hay in the pasture all the time. So far, it has been working out. Mariah is a bit heavier than I would like while Beamer and Ebony are still a bit ribby. And they are eating more. Time to order hay again.

Anyway, they normally spend all day camped out around the feeder. But when B was in the stall, the other two would go up and stand next to him. It was kind of cute. I tried to get a picture but they saw me coming and figured treats were in their future. They weren't but by then the picture has passed.

And then it rained. It rained as hard as I have ever seen it rain in Colorado. I sent these two pictures to the girls who had just finished giving the horses bathes a couple of day before the rain started.

How can you be mad at somebody who looks as happy as these two do?

On the down side, at 1:30 in the morning my phone rang with Kumi's ring tone. She had water pouring in her window. Really big nuts!!! I told her to go get towels and I ran outside and started the tractor. I had been doing a pit of earth work earlier in the day and I had (stupidly) left a ridge of dirt across a drainage path. It was just tall enough to create a pond t hat was deeper than Kumi's window well was tall so her window well filled up. The windows are poorly fitting and just let the water pour in. I used the tractor to scrape the dirt back and the pond immediately began to drain. Right towards the other window well that was also starting to fill. So the tractor and I headed around to the back of the house and cut a small ditch that channeled the water away from the other window well. It worked! I love my tractor. Not as much as my horse, but I love my tractor.

Now all I had to do was go in and clean up the mess. Which means taking everything out of her room, pealing back the carpet and dragging out the padding which is nothing more than a big sponge, vacuum out the water and set a fan to dry things out. This is the second time this has happened to us and I learned a lot from the first round. (Apparently not enough to actually prevent a second occurrence but as Scott Adams says, we are all idiots sometimes.) If you call Servepro and have them do the work for you, for a 12 by 12 room with relatively little water it will run you anywhere between $750 and $1500 to have them do the work. Insurance will generally not cover this as it was outside water coming in, more commonly known as flooding.

But, if you can do it yourself, you can get things cleaned up for around $300. The trick is to act fast. Get the walls wiped down immediately. Within the first 12 hours peel up the carpet and get the padding out. The padding cannot be saved so don't even bother. Next step is to get the water out of the carpet. A shop vacuum will not do it, they are just not powerful enough. You need something will real suction power like a carpet cleaner. I called Stanley Steamer and they came out and "cleaned" the effected area and it only cost $99.00 (it would have been less but that is their minimum charge). As soon as they are done, get to the rental store and rent a carpet blower. The trick here is put the blower UNDER the carpet. Just fold back a corner, put the blower on the floor and then fold the carpet back over the top of the blower. A clamp helps hold things in place. Turn the blower on and let it run for about 3 days. The carpet kind of blows up like a big balloon. Since its cheaper to rent by the week you can let the blower go for a whole week. By placing the blower under the carpet, it forces air up through the carpet and it is much much more efficient at drying things out. If you can get things done within the first 24 hours the chances of growing mold go way way down. The tricky part is to find a carpet installer who can then come back and relay and stretch the carpet for you. Unless you know how to stretch carpet, I strongly recommend you get a carpet installer to do this.

And there you have it, do it yourself disaster recovery. Not for everyone but certainly not as difficult as we are led to believe.

Oh, and I did learn my lesson this time. Since that window is a single pane basement window that is never opened, I purchased a piece of 1/4" Plexiglas and siliconed it into the window frame. The piece of Plexiglas that was 32 by 14 was $54 and I thought that was crazy and wasn't going to do it. But then I remembered what it costs to clean things up when water gets in and decided that $54 is pretty darn cheap insurance. Now water cannot get in if the well should happen to fill up again.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summer is Nearly here.

Horses are strange critters. I am thinking I should change the name of my blog to "Horses are Strange Critters". Case in point - weight control. All winter long Beamer, the Arabian, looked good. He had healthy layer of fat and had no trouble staying warm. As we came into spring I cut back on the grain a bit within a few weeks I could play the Xylophone on his ribs and I am afraid that his hip bone will punch out of his skin. Same with Ebony. She cam to us in February with a health layer of fat and now I can count every one of her ribs as well. Mariah, on the other hand, is at the perfect weight. I can feel her ribs but I cant see them. Nuts. Someting had to change.

I decided that I needed to change the feeding regime. Horses prefer to eat about 25 hours out of every 24. It is much easier for us care givers to feed them twice a day. Great for us, not so great for the horse. Their stomachs are empty after about 15 minutes. There is a lot of research the indicates allowing horse to graze is by far the best way to feed them. Our normal feeding schedule was 6am and 6pm. This has worked well for us and the horses have been healthy over all. But we are now on summer schedule for Westernaires so this schedule does not work on Thursdays. On Thursday we have to be at Westernaires by 5:30 and ready to ride at 6:30 and its a two hour ride. When you have horses on a feeding schedule they get to know that schedule and they wait for you. They stand by the gate and stare at the house willing that funny looking two legged horse feeder to come out and feed them. When you interrupt that schedule they get cranky. Ever try to ride a hungry horse? Lets just say that they lack focus. Well, that's not true, they are VERY focused. On getting food.

After chatting with a few people I decided that putting the horses on free hay made the most sense (for the horse - terrible economic sense with current hay prices!). My local feed supplier had just gotten is some great little round feeders. I cannot handle big rounds or even large squares. This little feeder will hold a little over two small bales.

It took a few days to ease them into the idea that they will always have food around. They have gotten the idea and now they are working out the pecking order which usually means Ebony has to wait for a bit before she eats. I have also noticed that seeds from the hay settle to the bottom and Beamer loves those seeds. So he digs his head down to the bottom and munches on those. To make access easier, he pushes hay out on the ground. This works well for Ebony and Mariah seems to think it makes perfectly acceptable bedding for a quick nap.

So far, I am really pleased with the results. When we want to go riding the horses are much more attentive to us, much less focused on trail snacks. I worked with Mariah last night from 5:30 to 6:30 on collection and speed control and she was a different horse. She was really listening to me and we made good progress. After the ride was fun too. Usually when I take the halter off she dashes for the food. Last night she put her head against me for a good scratch. So I scratched her. I scratched her nose, her cheeks, her ears and her neck. For about 5 minutes I just scratched her. Her bottom lip went all limp which is horse talk for, " Ahhhh"

Here is a picture of the three of us as we headed off for a little ride. We had a ball. Mariah still has a bad habit of trotting off if I give her any slack at all. When she does that I turn her into a circle to slow her down and collect her. Once she was collected I put her back on the trail until I feel her pick up her stride when she shouldn't. So I circled her the other way. We did A LOT of circles. What made it fun is that we were playing follow the leader and I was in front. Beamer and Ebony were following so we were all doing circles down the trail. There was much smiling and laughter.

See Mom, I DO have a helmet!!