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.


Bif said...

Gee, and Mother whines when I refuse to eat my mush dinner because it is too cold, or too thick, or too runny... but it sounds like Grey's staff have A LOT more work to do!

Grey, I remember the first time Mother clambered aboard me bareback. She was being recalled, and she said "what the hell" one afternoon bringing me in the from the field by the back of the barn. She put me next to the mounting block and swung on. I was a little shocked, too. She didn't have a helmet, I didn't have a bridle... I had less than 15 rides. Another human looked at her asked if she had gone crazy. She said, "Well if he kills me, I don't have to go to Iraq, now do I?" She just rode me to the front of the barn. It wasn't so bad.
She rode me bareback a lot between then and when she left for weeks and weeks last spring. Fortunately for me, the Army decided I needed her more than the Iraqis!

Pony Girl said...

Wow got a kick out of this post and the bareback ride- good job staying on during the spook! I'm really impressed! I have an uncanny ability to stay on a horse (and jump off quickly if need be!)
Holy cow, all that soaking looks like a lot of work! What we go through for our babies. I would do that for my horse- but of course, I never cook for myself, LOL!

SmartAlex said...

The bareback was fun because it was unpredictable. As an educated adult, I think we have come to analyse everything we do with and for our horses absolutely to death. At least I do. Hopping on bareback with no helmet was risky but I have to say... exhilerating. It reminds me of why we do this. Not so we can worry about the odds of hurting ourselves, or worry about equine nutrition right down to miligrams and ounces and what equipment is the wisest investment (you want to hear the husband reactions to $126 pink horse sneakers?). We do this to feel the power beneath us and the wind in our hair. Just like Bif's Mom... sometimes you have to do what's important in case you never get to do it ever again. Giddy-Up!

tangerine said...

Good for you hopping on bareback and staying on no matter what. Bareback is so much fun when done on a horse with the right amount of round-ness at least. I know I trust a horse if I'm willing to get on it bareback.

All this feed stuff is very interesting. Where did you have them tested for what they were lacking in and if you don't mind my asking, how much was it? My mare's a little skinny and I want to make sure she's not only getting enough, but getting enough of what she needs. What did the vet call this procedure?

Good luck with all that beep soaking. I'm sure you've looked, but I know a feed called SafeChoice that's really low in carbs, based in rice bran that may be an option? Just thought I'd throw that out there to see if it's something that would be easier.

Bif said...

SAFE CHOICE IS NOT LOW CARB! It's "lower carb" than some sweet feeds, but it isn't low carb.

Safe Choice is around 28% NSC. One reason I dislike Safe Choice is they make people think it IS a safe choice when it isn't. And most horses don't really care for it if offered any other grain!

Triple Crown's Complete, for example, is 20% NSC, has kelp and pro bios and flax, and is VERY tasty. Their Lite, intended for easy keepers and IR horses, is 9%. See how that's a lot lower than Safe Choice?

Purina's Wellsolve L/C is another low in NSC.

Sorry for the caps, I just get really upset when people are fooled by marketing, and a product named that when when it is NOT TRUE.

SmartAlex said...

That's right. Safe Choice is not low in sugars. If you read up on the COTH forum, there are several good topics regarding feed labeling. This one for example:

It seems, the lowest feed for sugars, NSC or whatever you want to call them, is Carb-Guard from Blue Seal. Katy Watts is working on getting the states to regulate the labeling

SmartAlex said...

As for the testing. I had the Insulin done for $32. My vet sent them to Cornell. I am interested in getting the glucose tested also next time.

We had the Selenium done for $38. He had been munching dirt in the pasture, which generally means they are low in something. Selenium is one of the few things I know you can do a blood test for, and the one our vet recommended.

Bif said...

I come from an area of North Dakota that was rich in selenium, and my parents and grands forever lived in the same areas, so Mother always gave me and other Nokota cousins she worked with a Vitamin E and Se supplement. She says it helped our temperaments. I know I felt more anxious before she started it, but I don't really know why...