Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ummm...I Think You Forgot Something?

Today Brita forgot my saddle. You know, that all important piece which attaches the human to the horse, and has climbing equipment necessary for getting the human ON the horse in the first place. I am seriously concerned for her mental well being. She has never committed such a blatant error before.

The first problem this caused was getting her up on my back. You would think she would have noticed she had forgotten something at this point because it wasn't easy. There she is, wallowing around on my back like a drunken monkey, poking and pulling and heaving about. This was VERY alarming to me. If Mom hadn't been holding my bit, I think I would have left.

All this activity wore her out, and she just lay up there panting for a minute while I settled down. She patted my sides and told me everything was OK. After my eyes stopped rolling around, and popped back in my head, she tried again. This time she made it.

Once she was up there it wasn't so weird. We walked around a little and everything seemed OK. I have to say though, that having human legs around you feels different than wearing a saddle. Muscle to muscle like that you can feel all the moving and twitching in your human. In fact, it feels a little..... naughty.

I felt so fresh and frisky that I started to look for something fun to do. The open back door is always a good excuse, especially when it is snowing out. So, I shied at the door, and ran. And she pulled my hair!

OK, Brita speaking, let me interject something here:

Yes, I rode bareback, and it was fun. It was more fun because when he shied and bolted I stayed on. And bless his heart, he did not buck even when I was hanging off his side like a Comanche warrior as he gallumped across the arena.

I don't remember what gait we were using, my mind was otherwise occupied. I grabbed mane, decided I was going to fight gravity, and also managed to steer him to the gate where he stopped.

Mom and I had a good laugh over it. It WAS funny! I mean look at the picture again. See my face? Don't I look like I'm having fun? HA! I'm so glad Mom caught some of it on camera. She missed the part where I was hanging off over his right shoulder, but you get the idea.

I had anticipated that getting ON would be the big problem. I figured Grey would react at least a little to me heaving myself across his back and flopping around like a trout. Once, a year or two ago, my saddle slipped as I was mounting and he can do a very good impression of a saddle bronc, complete with sound effects. I remember the good ole days (like 25 years ago) when I could swing up on a 16+ hand horse with one hand. I was pretty good at riding bareback. In fact, the first time I qualified for the State 4-H show, it was in bareback equitation. Saddleseat. With posting and everything. It was my specialty. Fast forward a few decades and walking and trotting both ways of the arena without falling off was a challenge. Oh how the mighty have fallen!

Fun is something that has been sort of missing from horse ownership lately. Today, sometime on the drive to the barn, I became weary of horse ownership. I dare say I am a few weeks behind Mom. Why is that? Because Mom is on the front lines of the soaking procedures. Ever since Grey's Insulin test came back high, and Mom's horse's came back even higher, she has been soaking the sugar out of everything. First there is the hay soaking which Grey showed you in his last post. This is quite a production. All the hay they eat has to be soaked for a minimum of one hour which lowers the sugar content by 30%. We do have one batch of hay (8% sugar and starch, 10% is the wise limit) that doesn't require soaking, but the stuff they were eating was a whopping 27%. We use the "bad" hay for when someone just has to throw them a piece of hay. Everything else is soaked. And they really don't like the "bad" hay. They'd much rather eat the soaked "good" hay. Heck, even the cows don't like the "bad" hay. Including Ugly Betty who will climb the manure pile and pick hay out of the horse manure. It looks pretty and green but it must taste worse than... well you know.

Besides that, we have upped Grey's beet pulp and added beet pulp to Face-Off's diet. This qualifies as roughage and reduces the amount of hay Mom has to soak. It also serves as a good way to give them their supplements (since we've cut most of the nutritious stuff like fortified feeds and hay nutrients out) and makes them think they had a meal. No more grain. Only small amounts of fatty seeds like black oil sunflower seeds and flax seed which slow the digestion and release of sugars into the bloodstream, thus reducing the insulin spikes. It's all very scientific and wearying. BUT, the beet pulp also has to be soaked then rinsed. This removes any residual sugars, as well as the excess iron and calcium, Mom moved the beet pulp soaking to the kitchen to make it easier.

SO, here's a picture of Mom's kitchen sink during the beet pulp soaking procedure which takes place twice a day. Note the one element in the upper left corner which is necessary to this fodder soaking ritual.

That strainer is really perfect isn't it? First the beet pulp (Beep for short) has to soak for awhile. Then it's rinsed three times. You have to stir the rinse water. See, she even has a special spoon.

Then pour it through the strainer. See how black the water is? It's Beep tea. This is the third rinse. But, you have to get the bad stuff reduced so you are left with the beneficial fiber for roughage.

When you're done, your sink looks like this. Fun huh?

Then you have to measure out the supplements. They are getting Thyrol-L for increased thyroid activity. D-Carb Balancer which has all their vitamins including selenium which Grey tested low on. And, the D-Carb also has the recommended levels of Chromium Yeast and Magnesium, which Mom had been adding separately, which helps with the insulin resistance. Luckily, these guys are so starved for anything that resembles horse feed, they eat their supplements easily.

Next you have to add the BOSS (black oil sunflower seeds) or the Flax Seed. They both are fatty foods which slow the sugar and help their coats. Mom runs the 4 oz of flax seed through the fancy schmancy coffee grinder although some people claim this isn't necessary. We haven't been grinding the BOSS, but that would probably help. Both horses LOVE the BOSS and the Flax. After all, it tastes better than rinsed beep and watery hay.

They've both been stuck on the Atkins diet without any choice in the matter. They can't have any carrots or horse cookies. They do get sugar free mints. Have you ever seen a horse get excited about a leaf of lettuce? Well, it's the end of February in New York, and green lettuce is pretty exciting. Face-Off also loves celery. Grey, not so much, but if that's all we got...fine.

So this soaking crap goes on all day. Mom feeds the horses five times a day to avoid insulin spikes. That means there is always hay soaking. The soaking area looks like a swamp. Grey is wary that a sea monster might surface there. We are planning improvements this spring that will make soaking easier and draining a possibility so Mom doesn't have to dump the tubs into the wheel barrow and wheel it out back each time. They get beep at least twice a day.
To make life more complicated, Face-Off cannot be trusted to eat his Thyrol-L and he has sore feet. The first thing you need to know about Face-off is that he is known around the barn as "Pinky" or "Pinkster" because of his pink nose.

To ensure that The Pinkster gets his Thyrol-L, she just mixes it with water and shoots it in his mouth with a syringe.

And to help his sore feet, she bought him horse sneakers. In PINK. I admit that was my idea. This is supposed to be fun right?

Well, Pinky was good about his new orthopedic shoes, but probably a little humiliated. He tried to take them off with his teeth. He thinks we are dressing him up like a girl.

He would prefer something more dignified like Saddle Shoes.

He looks a bit put out doesn't he?

But really these horse boots are pretty ingenious. I was impressed with them. They went on easily and look like they would hold up to all the claims made about them. I never thought about him trying to take them off with his teeth. He pulled one of the fasteners right off. Luckily it was a metal failure, not a leather or nylon failure so I just stopped by the hardware store and found something to replace it. A 69 cent part to repair a $126 pair of sneaks. Yup, this horse ownership is fun. They are always trying to destroy what you have spent a whole lot of money on. And they never look like they appreciate it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

There is Something Amiss with Le Menu

Since last Saturday there has been something really wonky with my food. All the good stuff has gone away. Brita says the test results came back and my horse juice was way too sweet, so I am on an emergency diet. Face-Off is too. His is way worse than mine. Apparently, this is the same thing that ultimately did ole Hairy in so everyone is in a panic, and they have made some pretty rash decisions about my diet.

Firstly, no more carrots. OMG! WHY?!? Brita has been on an exhaustive search for sugar free horse treats, and she found some here at Withers and Withers. Thank Heaven! Those are on the way, and in the mean time, Brita has made some homemade cookies that aren't too bad. But they don't crunch, and I'm really in the mood for something crunchy. The can it comes in is so pretty! The horse looks just like me!

Secondly, my Uncle Jimmy Ball is used up and it will not be renewed. Not to worry, Brita says, she as corresponded with Uncle Jimmy himself and she assures me that he has a treat ball in the approval phase that will fit in my diet. I just have to be patient.

Thirdly, Mom has created what looks like a seaweed factory. She is soaking all our hay. This washes out all the taste. Bleh! I don't mind eating wet hay so much. In fact, now that she is wetting it for me, I don't have to dunk every bite, and now I have a sparkling clean water bucket instead of frothy, frozen hay tea. That part isn't so bad. I think it is more of a trauma for Mom than it is for me. I would like some sweet dry hay now and then though. We do have some hay that doesn't have to be served soggy. We can have little bits of that. Boy is that a treat! It's hay I would have turned my nose up at in the past but suddenly it tastes so much better!

Fourthly, Mom used to feed me sweet feed. Brita says she didn't know this was happening and has put a complete stop to it. That made me mad. It wasn't much grain, but it was really important to me! Mom gives me more hot beets, but it isn't the same. Yes I love my beets, but I've eaten beets until they're coming out my ears, and I want some grain! The Sunflower seeds she sprinkles on the top are yummy but they aren't enough. You know how it is.

And lastly, I'm back to work. That isn't really out of the ordinary. We were planning to get back to work because spring should be just around the corner, and we want to be ready for it. But getting dressed for work is kind of a hassle in the cold, and with shedding season starting up, we really need to spend more time scratching than usual. And it's so boring going in little circles. I miss galloping through our fields and perusing the roadsides. That's what is fun about riding. Not this circle stuff. My girth is a bit tight. Apparently I've put on about 100 pounds since last spring. I'm not really fat, you can still feel my ribs... sort of...but I should probably lose a few pounds until this gully on my topside goes away.

Brita says all this dieting is good for her too. She says every time she gets a snack she thinks about me and feels guilty. So far, she's lost 2 pounds. I think that's only fair since I end up having to cart her extra weight around too. So I guess all this food study is going to benefit us both.

Monday, February 8, 2010

R.I.P. Hairy

My good friend Hairy went on to greener pastures yesterday. He just had too many health problems. God speed Hairy.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

One Eyed Willy

I owied my left eye. I must have scratched it on my hay bag. It hurts a little, and I can't see very well out of it. Brita squirted some stuff in it and looked real close and said she saw a scratch in there. Mom gave me some medicine. That made me mad. I came all the way into the barn like a good boy because they said they had something for me and then she squirts funny tasting applesauce in my mouth. Bleh.

Brita came back later with some sticky stuff in a tube. She says Dr. Best sent it. My eye does feel a little better. Except for the sticky stuff of course. It isn't all watery and I don't have to squint as much but still, it's no fun. It makes things look funny and then I get nervous. Good thing the sun isn't shining. Then it would be really bad. Owwww..... I feel bad for myself.

Monday, February 1, 2010


So there I was, enjoying my lunch hay bag and a freshly cleaned stall, when this strange pickup truck backed up to the barn door. Hmm, says I, it isn't time for the farrier yet. And that truck doesn't have hay or sawdust in it. I wonder who... OH NO! It's ....drum roll please.... the Tooth Lady!

The Tooth Lady is a very nice lady. She has a much better bedside manner than some of the other people who come in and poke me with stuff. But, she has a LOT of strange, scary equipment. True to form, she began hauling in buckets and bags and things with cords. The things with cords worry me the most.

It appeared for awhile, that the subject of this invasion might not be me after all. But finally she peered into my stall and I knew the gig was up. I was trapped like a rat. Dr. Best is what Mom and Brita refer to as "the Good Vet" which means she listens when they talk, and makes good suggestions for modern health care. However, to me, the suggestions usually boil down to "shall we stick him with one needle or two" and "how much horse juice do we need for our evil experiments?"
Dr. Best (I think they call her that because she's the Best Horse Vet) has a nice website and can do some really fancy and surprising things with her tools. One of those things is tickle my teeth. She also comes from a land far far away, so we don't get to see her all that often, and her visits are a momentous occasion.

She came and said "hello" to me, which is the polite thing to do, and I gave her the hairy eyeball and did some snorting. She put a tape around me and declared I am bigger than last time. She felt my ribs and poked me a little. She and Brita discussed my menu and things like vitamins. Then she juiced me. I hate that part. She took juice out, and put juice in. Then I started to feel all woozy, and the world started to recede a little. Before I knew it, I was all strapped up and my chin was propped up on a chin-stand.

Then the power tools came out. Now at seven years of age, I've seen a lot of tools with power cords. There is the one that makes the bucket of water smoke and hiss like a volcano, there's the one that buzzes and tries to bite my ears, the one that sucks cold air through my coat. And then there's the scariest one of all, the one that makes my head vibrate. Guess which one Dr. Tooth Lady has.

This thing is awful. It tickles my teeth and makes a thunderous noise in there. And here I am, completely incapacitated and unable to defend myself with my butt wedged, unceremoniously in a corner. I was a good patient though. When she turned the tooth shaker off the first time I let out a looong loooooow Snooooorrrrrttttt. And that's all I have to say about that.

Pretty soon it was over, including the nasty little file which I also hate, and the gear came off and Brita tied me to the wall. Actually she's been doing that quite a lot lately. I can't believe she expects me to stand around and do nothing. I used to just back up and leave, and if stuff needed to get broken, then I'd do that too. But she bought some magic ring that just keeps letting rope out until I get tired of backing up, and somehow, I'm still tied. (Editors Note: It's a blocker tie ring, very handy little gadget). Foolishly, she left it hanging on the arena wall and it mysteriously disappeared. Brita says only Ace and I are the possible suspects, but we're not telling what happened to it. Little did we know, she had more than one.

So, she tied me to the wall, and ruined my entire afternoon of munching. I really wanted some hay so I could check that my teeth still work, but they said I couldn't have any until the horse juice wore off. I guess Doctor's and Dentists are a necessary evil. They say an apple a day keeps the Doctor away. If Brita would feed me those instead of carrots, we might not have to go through these little ordeals.