Last Horse Standing

Well, not really. We’re all still standing. But I’m the only one in our herd of four to not suffer some kind of injury or lameness this summer. Although, come to think of it, I did have that choking episode last month. More about that later.

First on the injured list was Nevada with his previously-written-about, skewered-by-a-stump wound in June. That was a doozy, and definitely the most impressive effort at equine self-injury we’ve had on the farm since I’ve been here, and I’ve been here from the beginning, less one year.

Since I blogged about Nevada’s wound in “A Hole in One”, he’s continued to heal nicely with no further complications. All that’s left is what you see below, a fingernail-sized scab surrounded by a rather cool looking scar. Trust old Spot to add another interesting feature to his collection of spots, brands, and scars.

All that’s left of the “hole in one”.

The next to run into trouble was Gidget with a sore, swollen knee. T and Judy thought it was the result of some kind of impact at first, possibly even a kick. But I swear it wasn’t me. I’m just not the kicking type. Gidge and Rosa sometimes get into what I like to call “mare matches”, where they back up to one another and go to town with the hind hooves, but that wouldn’t impact a joint on the front leg.

Turns out the most likely culprit is old age and the arthritis that often comes with it. She’s been on a supplement called OsteoAid for the past couple of months and that really seems to be helping. She’s still a little stiff on that front left but still able to keep up with the herd just fine.

Gidget’s lumpy left knee still works quite well.

Our most recent invalid is the lovely Rosa. Back in May when I wrote about Rosa in my “Shesa Lil Ichi” post, I said “we’ve all got hooves crossed that she won’t have to be locked up in a dirt pen and fed hay for the spring and summer.” Well, she made it through the spring okay, but in late July she came up lame and has been in her grass-free, private accommodations since the 25th.

It’s not terrible. She has free-choice hay in the net feeders, a third of the shelter, and an area where she can roll. But she misses being out with the rest of us and, most of all, she misses grass. She loves her grass … which is a big part of the problem. After two weeks in the pen she was looking so much better and when they started exercising her she held up just fine.

Rosa enjoying her private buffet.

Tuesday we went on a trail ride and she trucked along in her Renegade hoof boots for the two-hour ride without issue. With everything looking so positive, she went out on grass early Wednesday morning for a short while. Whether it was the trail or the grass, or a combination of the two we’re not sure, but she sure is sore again. Poor Rosa. Just when we all thought her life was going to return to normal. For now, it’s back to a hay diet, some pain meds and supplements, and a few days rest to see if it will settle down again.

Dipping our toes (and nose) in Bragg Creek.

If you’re not familiar with this problem that afflicts some horses, it’s called laminitis, and is an inflammation in the feet often caused by too much rich food, like green grass. Having a sensitivity to what would seem like your most natural food source is a cruel trick of nature. I admit to having an enthusiastic attitude toward food and an easy time putting on pounds, especially during the grass season, but never has it made my feet hurt.

My own little health incident resulted from my aforementioned enthusiasm for food. With everyone else in the herd getting one supplement or another for one issue or another added to their feed—probiotics for Nevada’s digestive system, SimmirDown for Rosa’s metabolism, OsteoAid for Gidget’s arthritis—lucky me gets a little something too. I’d like to think it’s because I’m such a great guy and deserve it, but the truth is that it keeps me away from Rosa’s and Gidget’s food without T having to manage everyone.

Nevada’s is the deep, pink bin with more than the rest of us combined. Age has its benefits.

So, anyway, T bought this new kibble from K&K Livestock that’s extra low in sugar for Rosa and decided it was the best thing for me too. In my excitement over this new feed, I more inhaled than chewed and suddenly had a great wad of the stuff in my throat. I lay down. I stood up. I lay down again. I stood up. I coughed. I coughed some more. That was when T started to get worried. Although choking isn’t as immediately serious in horses as in humans since it doesn’t block our airway, it can result in serious complications if it doesn’t resolve quickly.

I’m learning to be patient and settled or T makes me wait longer.

The best thing, according to Google, is to keep the horse quiet and give the obstruction time to pass. I didn’t need Google. While T was browsing the internet, I went to the shelter and stood quietly in the shade until all was well. She’s put me back on my old feed now, which has bigger chunks and isn’t quite as dry.

Back to my original, less-inhalable feed.

Perhaps I should have called the blog “We’re Still Standing” since that’s closer to the truth. In a summer filled with bumps and hitches, we’re all hanging in there, looking forward to a long fall season filled with warm weather but no bugs (thanks to an early frost). I guy can dream, right?

The Accountant

T and I have been partners since I was just a youngster. She didn’t want to be the first to climb aboard, following a green-horse-equals-broken-back experience but, other than those first couple of weeks at the trainer’s, she’s been my main burden. (Burden. Funny, right? I do pack her around.)

Me and my favourite burden.

And we’ve gotten along famously … most of the time. The trick is, we horses do our best to communicate who we are and what we need but humans don’t always pick up what we’re laying down, if you know what I mean. You’re lovely beings but, sometimes, a little … well … lacking in sensitivity. But I say that with the utmost affection for the bipeds that feed me through the cold months of Canadian winter.

Ever so grateful.

Truthfully, I’ve been lucky. From the beginning, T made every effort to understand me and keep me happy in our work together. I’m not the bravest horse in the barn (although I prefer to think of it as possessing a highly-evolved sense of self-preservation) so sometimes T has had to be understanding and patient with what turns out to be my misinterpretation of a situation. Like the time two guys passed us on the trail on bikes. I’d seen many cyclists, but never with long, skinny appendages sticking out of their backs! OMG! Terrifying beyond belief! Oh … fishing poles you say? Well, shall we continue then?

A guy walking through the pasture with a tripod over his shoulder also looks pretty weird.

I’m just not big on surprises, or change, or new things. I like stuff to stay the same. I like routine, which I expressed to T many times during our rides when I would attempt to move onto the next exercise before she asked for it. She thought I needed more variety, to have things mixed up a little more, but it only frustrated me and had me offering five different moves at once.

Showing off one of my best moves … gate opening/closing.

And then she read a book (thanks, Michelle!) called “Is Your Horse a Rock Star?” It’s written in a humorous  fashion but has some great stuff about horse personalities in it, a bit like a Myers-Briggs for horses. T was pretty surprised to find out I was The Accountant, maybe because of my flair for drama, but an accountant is what I am.

A couple of key points: “Accountants like predictability. They want you to have a plan and stick to it.” I know, right? And, these two items from the list of don’ts really hit home: Don’t … “1) Change routine or 2) Surprise them”. I do not like a surprise, unless it looks like a carrot. But I guess that wouldn’t really be a surprise, unless it tastes like an apple, which would be okay too, but what if it tasted like chicken. Yuck. Anyway… I digress.

Looks like grass, tastes like grass. All good.

Where was I? Right. The Accountant. So, once T realized that she wasn’t ruining me by keeping too much routine in our training sessions, I was a happy lad, eager to do my job well and on schedule.

Like the Myers-Briggs, my personality type is defined by four letters, DLAF. The D is for dominant versus submissive. I’m number two in the herd and don’t let anybody forget it.

I even challenge the boss once in awhile.

The L is for lazy versus energetic. I take a bit of exception to this one but, it’s true, I don’t expend a lot of extra energy unless we’re dealing with the third letter in my code…

But I do have my energetic moments.

A is for afraid versus curious. I am quite curious also, often the first to notice and approach anything new in our environment, but I’m happy to let one of my herd mates do the get-close part. That’s just smart, right? If they don’t get eaten, I move in for a closer look.

Every now and then I let curiosity override fear.

The final letter is F for friendly versus aloof. I am most definitely heavy on the F side of that scale. What would be the point of aloofness?

Giving my girl a little nuzzle.

So, that’s me, the bean counter, the number cruncher, the pencil pusher, the Accountant. Just between you and me, I think T is the same, which is maybe why we get along so well.