Wednesday, August 27, 2014

headed out west.

Tomorrow we are loading up the wagon and heading out west. And by wagon I mean horse trailer, funny how things have changed for horses, 150 years ago they were pulling people out west, and now people are pulling them out west.
This year we are going with our neighbors who we went camping with a few weeks ago. It's so nice having friends that have similar interests to you, and as an added bonus they live so close to us.They are headed out today, and we will meet up with them tomorrow. I still have so much to do but I have to say, that using the tack room of your horse trailer, as your full time tack room sure makes it easy to go anywhere. All of our main stuff is already in there, all we have to do is pack some hay, the horses, our coolers, and whatever we will be needing.
We will be taking Cash and Duke this year. I really wish Pistol was still with us and healthy enough to make the trip. He was a rockstar out there. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I would have 10 more horses like him if I could. Duke is always amazing out in the badlands so we aren't worried about him. He loves going to new places. Cash was apparently ridden out in the badlands a few times last year so he should be good to go.
George is staying home to keep pony company. I really think that the badlands might be too aggressive for his first sleep away from home trail ride. I do hope to bring him to the place we camped at a few weeks ago. I really think it would be good for him to get out there. My friend offered to ride him for me, she's got a bit more confidence in the saddle than I do. I can ride him at home just fine. But being a huge chicken, I start getting anxious once I head out down the road. I know, I know... cowboy up blah, blah, blah. Easier said than done. He is so much fun to ride too, so I think that I will LOVE trail riding him, but I have to just get over this bump in the road first.

The boys decided to have a spa day yesterday and took advantage of the mud. They gave themselves mud baths. Can anyone tell me why I like light colored horses so much?? Oh that's right. Because I'm an idiot.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

mamma said they was my magic shoes.

Cash got himself a new pair of shoes last night. A type that I’ve actually never even seen before my farrier suggested them. But based on the way he wears his shoes, she wanted to try EponaShoes on him. She just recently starting to put them on horses but she said her clients have all been pretty impressed so far. Like I said I’ve never even heard of this type of shoe before, let alone seen one, or had anyone I knew try them. But I am willing to give anything a try.
These are like high tech space shoes.
image from EponaShoe website.

This is the side that goes against the sole. Cash will be gellin like a felon.
Image from the EponaShoe website

Putting them on, was a little different than putting on regular shoes. First my farrier made a packing to go in his hoof which contained antibacterial granules that will help prevent yucky stuff from growing “up in there”.  It also protects the sole of the hoof, and I won’t have to worry about rocks and crap going up and getting caught in his foot. SCORE! I HATE picking feet! She applied that stuff to his hoof and then let him chill on a paper towel for a bit to let it ‘set’. Next up was the shoe. She said she could glue it on, but we both agreed to nail it on like a regular shoe. Mostly because she had attempted to glue a set on a difficult horse, and wasted almost her entire supply trying to get the darn thing on.  She put on the shoe and then rasped and nipped it to fit his foot. Repeat on the other foot, and then done. They stay on just as good as steel shoes she said, so I’m looking forward to seeing how they wear on him.
Forgot to take a picture before I turned him out...

Everything I’ve read on their website seems positive. Horses in just about every discipline are using them. They look like hardcore running shoes and kind of remind me of those EasyBoots that you can buy to protect your horses feet. We also discussed that type horse boots. My farrier said that they suck because they have to fit perfectly, so right after a trim they can be too big, and then as the hoof grows they are too small. These shoes are having those boots on, without having to worry about fit.  
 She was also saying that she started using EponaShoes on some of her client’s horses with lameness issues and has seen improvements in them. Especially the horses with navicular. Cash still seems a bit off. It’s a mystery, as to where it’s originating. More than likely we are going to bring him back in for a few more x-rays. My farrier and I both kind of thought that it was up in his knee. But she said “I’m not a vet so I can’t diagnose it completely.” Cash isn’t in pain, but his gait is just a bit off. When I’ve ridden him his walk seems to get better after he was warmed up. I’m thinking about hauling him back in for a few more x-rays. I mean it’s only money right?
The big gray thoroughbred was up next. He was mostly charming for the whole thing. Until we were sarcastically and overly saying nice things about him “OH such a good boy!!” “Look at that big handsome, sweet boy being so good!” Then he got pissed, and could obviously tell we were making fun of him and decided to snatch away his last foot. Seriously horse? One foot left and you have to be difficult. He apparently picked up on the fact we were mocking him. He is a pretty smart horse.

So I’ll keep everyone interested posted on how these shoes go! 

Monday, August 11, 2014

one week.

It’s been one week since I said good bye to my big sweet red horse. Clearly I made the right decision for him and I’ve found my peace with it. But it’s been really weird since he has been gone. Every time I walk down to check on the horses I see a fat red horse, a big gray horse disguising himself as a red horse in his red Kensington fly sheet, a little palomino, and a tiny Shetland pony all stuffing their faces at the round bale feeder. I instinctively walk into the lean of the barn to check on Pistol since that is where he liked to spend his days, hanging out under the fly traps and chilling in the shade. I’ve laughed at myself for going out there and doing that. It’s just an old habit I guess.
On Saturday morning the husband and I were getting ready to head out to a Rodeo in Minnesota with some friends, when my dogs started going nuts at the front door. The mail man brought our mail up to the house because he had a package for us. Yes, my totally cliché dogs were barking at the mail man. As soon as he handed me the package, I knew what it was. It was Pistol’s tail as well as a sympathy card from the clinic staff. I carefully opened the box and there is was, all 27 miles of it. Okay so 27 miles may be a bit of an exaggeration, but Pistol had an amazing long tail. They also braided his mane into two braids and snipped those off for me. Seeing, smelling and touching the hair hit me harder than I thought it would. I was doing so well but it brought me to tears… big, sobbing, hysterical tears. To add another kick in the guts a very, very sweet friend of mine, that I haven’t seen in ages sent me a sympathy card. I was drowning in a puddle of tears at my kitchen table.

I made the right decision for Pistol and everyone that knew him knows that I made the right decision. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I no longer worry about coming home and finding him down and too weak to stand, or even worse, having already passed away. I also no longer have to make him his special sugarbeet pulp and alfalfa pellet meals and then keep checking on him every half hour to see if he is FINALLY finished eating. He was a guy who enjoyed his food and took his time eating. I don’t have to get up extra early to get him his first meal of the day.
When I put Piney down, I went into a deep dark depression. His death was so traumatic on me. I was angry and I was sad. I didn’t have the time to say good bye to him the way I wanted to. He was taken so suddenly that I just felt like I had been cheated and robbed. With Pistol, I had a week with him. I got to love up on him every night, and stuff his face with treats. I feel differently now that he is gone. I still miss him like crazy, but I know that we made the right decision for him. Hopefully I don’t sound like some kind of monster now that I confessed that I don’t feel super depressed.   Did I love that horse? Absolutely! He was the best trail horse I’ve ever ridden! I want 26 more horses just like him. Do I miss him. Of course I do. I miss that big droopy lip of his, and the way his coat was starting to feel like velvet which was the first sign that fall was just around the corner. Okay, so now I’m getting a bit weepy over him. …..

But I’m happy that he is no longer suffering. I’m happy that he knew nothing but love from the moment he came into our lives. I’m happy that we had him. I’m happy that he was my confidence booster after Piney. And I’m happy for every single memory with him…

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Good bye my old friend. Until we meet again.

Yesterday I said goodbye to my sweet old man horse, Pistol. The horse we bought as an impulse buy a few years ago. The horse that I was never supposed to get attached to, because he was our ‘spare horse’. The horse that made me remember exactly what it was I loved about riding. I am a believer that certain horses come into our lives at certain times for certain reasons, and Pistol was proof of that.
The big red horse came into our lives as a complete impulse. We went to a horse auction not expecting to buy anything, but as the last few horses were being sold, he stood there calmly in the center of the sale ring, and nothing phased him. We paid $575 for him. And knew nothing about him,and for all we knew he could have been drugged.  The next day we picked him up and brought him home. Turned him loose with our other two red horses, Duke and Piney and then spent the next 5 ½ hours trying to catch him again. The husband and I figured we had made a big mistake. This horse was nothing like that calm sweet horse we bought. When we finally did catch the horse, he tensed up when you went to touch him. Eyes wide, and nostrils flared. His whole body went rigid when you touched him. And forget about touching his face. The next day we saddled him up and he took off bucking across the yard. We thought about selling him, but I wanted to get him checked by the vet. When the vet came out to check him out, his teeth had sharp steak knife like points and he had ulcers in his mouth. Then when he cleaned his ‘undercarriage” he found golf ball sized beans. I asked the vet if that would cause the behavior we’d seen and he thought that it definitely could have something to do with it. The next day the farrier came out to trim his feet and I apologized in advance for what the horse could be like, as we had no idea what he was like for trims. Pistol stool like a champion, in fact he was better than our other two. The farrier said “if he rides anything like how he stood for me today, you have a great horse on your hands”. It was then that we decided he should get a quick tune up at the trainer.
He was famous for his halters getting twisted around.

And quick tune up is what he got. We dropped him off and the trainer called a short while later saying that the horse was ready to be picked up. He didn’t feel right keeping this horse around because there was nothing else he could train him to do, he did it all already. So we picked him up and he came home with us.
I will always remember that first ride I had on him at home. I was having so much fun with him riding around the yard. But right before I hopped off, my husband said “Piney isn’t eating”. I quickly hopped off and went to get Piney, who in fact wasn't eating, and was in obvious distress. The next day I lost Piney. I then found myself shutting myself off from the two surviving horses. Pistol was trying so hard to get me to interact with him, and I just didn't want anything to do with him.
Duke and Pistol. Best buddies.
Obviously Pistol was upset by the passing of his friend and his condition started to deteriorate. This forced me to step in and start working on getting him fattened back up. I started to realize how sweet he was and started to remember that I loved horses.
One of my favorite pictures of us.

funny to think this guy hated having his face touched at one time.

Hillbilly dressage.

a walk to remember.

He came out of winter fat and happy. He became my riding buddy and I realized that he was an awesome trail horse. He did everything I asked of him. I’d even planned on bringing him to some eventing schooling days that were being held at our local English club. The day before I planned on hauling him out to give eventing a shot, I noticed his breathing was not normal. Heaves. 
Fat and happy. The vet suggested a slow feed hay net to help keep his head out of  dusty hay bales.

The vet prescribed a bunch of medicine, and it seemed that we had it under control. He was great all winter, but this spring his heaves came back with a vengeance. Nothing was working. We worked with the vet and they had us trying all sorts of things but nothing was working. We retired him. He had his good days where his breathing was back to normal, but with the hot and dusty weather we've been having it got worse again. To make matters worse, his buddy Duke went off for 30 days at the trainer. Pistol feeling like he lost his friend forever again, turned into skin and bones. Everything I tried didn’t work. I bumped up his feed and he was getting a ton of alfalfa pellets, and tons of sugar beet pulp, and safechoice, but it wasn't working. Nothing was working. So we decided that we needed to make that decision and let him go.
I had a week with Pistol to say goodbye. While it didn't make it easier it did help. Piney was taken so suddenly from me that I never felt like I got to properly say good bye to him. The way Pistol looked at me, I know he was ready.
Yesterday morning, I woke up and knew I was making the right decision. I was doing okay until I went to get him ready to go into the trailer. I still managed to keep it together, until his buddies called out to him after he was loaded into the trailer. He called back and I lost it.
Once we got to the vet, my husband went to check in. I unloaded Pistol by myself. He was the only horse that would hop right in and out of the trailer with no problems. I walked him into the clinic and as always he was calm as could be. I was still managing to keep it together… and then our vet walked up to me. I absolutely lost it. Big sobbing tears, and our vet was awesome. No doubt the hardest part of his job. He gave me a big hug and took Pistol’s lead rope from me. I kept saying that I was so sorry for Pistol’s condition, and he told me to stop it. It happens to a lot of people. He knew that we were trying our best , and  it can happen to anyone’s horse. He asked if we wanted to stick around, and I said that I didn't think that was the best idea. I've been told that although usually it goes pretty easy, sometimes horses can go down violently and it’s best not to remember them like that. He said he would cut off his tail, and then have it cleaned and will bring it to us. As we left I saw the vet tech in the arena with Pistol, rubbing him and giving Pistol some love. My husband asked if maybe we should have had him put to sleep at home, that way we could have him buried there. I said that it was better to have him put to sleep at the vet, that way he would have an easier time finding Piney once he left. 
I hope that in Pistol’s last years he knew how much we loved him. And that not all people are bad. He had a good life with us and I wish that I had a whole barn filled with horses like him. When we were leaving to go to the vet, I opened the mail, and Cash’s permanent brand release had arrived. My husband said that maybe it was a sign. Cash has been proven to be a good trail horse for me. It was just one of those ways the universe was telling me that Pistol had taught me everything that he could, and that it was time for him to leave.

I obviously am sad that Pistol is gone. But I have found that I am a bit more at peace with it. He was ready to go. I’m glad that he ended up with us, and that we were able to give him love every day of his life. Had we not bought him that day, I don’t know what would have happened to him. But I am so glad that I was able to have him in my life, even if it was just briefly.
He loved George, and George loved him.