Grass and Bugs and Summer Lovin

The flys are out in full force these days.bugs

Here is an evening sun shot of Remi finding some tasty clover.evening sun on your back

Major is a master at finding that perfect bite.  Course it seems to be on the other side of the fence so much of the time.  Bummer.major finding just the right bite

Junior loves thistle, especially in the fall when it’s brown and sticks to everything (on him).  He many times has a crown of thistle all in his mane and forelock.  This time of year it’s green and the horses don’t seem to eat it too much, though here Junior is checking it out.

nose in the grass

Again, fences are always in the way.jr in tall grass

Liberty and Misty, their love knows no bounds or stall walls.  Or maybe I should say – unbridled love!

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Stay cool, everybody.  And tic free.

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Summer on the Farm

This week:DSCF6394It’s summer and there are hot days.  Days when it’s nice to spend a little time in the barn away from the heat of the sun, but also with some breezes blowing through.

jr in stall

Then again, sometimes the horses are done being in the barn and want out.

 

jr playing with sunlight

Junior playing with the sun.  Or just giving me the evil eye that says, let me out.

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Belle taking a drink of water after fresh water was just added.  We put a cinder block in there in case squirrels fall in.  They have a place to jump off of so they don’t drown.

belle drinking close up

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Standing together helping to keep the flys off one another.

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We hang buckets on the pasture fence of a loose salt/mineral mixture called Dr. Dan’s Red Cal.  Princess just got done eating some and has it all over her nose.

DSCF6502Flash playing with the electrified rope of the fence which apparently isn’t working.

Hope you are all keeping cool.

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The Swish of a Tail

It’s  summer and on horse farms all around the country that means one thing – Bugs.  And it feels like horses attract them all.  Or a good majority of them anyway.

That’s why horses are so proud of their tails.  Or at least they’re glad they have one.  The longer the better.  Manes and forelocks help too.   So, it’s tail swishing season. Take a look at this video I took the other day.

This is princess and Belle swishing tails.

princess and belles tail

Belle is very good at the tail movement thing.She does it any time she can.  Including when I’m back there trying to groom her.  Boom- tail swat in the face or arm.  I try not to take it personally, but you know??

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Look at that – tail and mane synchronized.

major and mini backsideThis is Major (long tail) and Mini (docked tail).  Mini apparently was supposed to be a carriage horse at one time or another so they docked her tail which is done many times to carriage horses.  It’s too bad cause now Mini can’t protect herself as well from the attack of bugs.  And she never has pulled a carriage.

 

flash tail

Flash fanning his white tail.

majors braided tailThis braided tail on Major looks cool – to humans anyway.  Not so sure horses like it, especially if it makes it hard for them to swatch flys with.  Cause in bug season – that’s what tails do best.

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Princess in the Spring

princess 2In past posts, I’ve written about our horse Princess who is a Morgan/Saddlebred and is Laminitic.  She is laminitic because she is Insulin Resistant.  Every vet we have ever talked to has told us to keep her off grass.  We have struggled with that though because,

First – we believe that horses should be free and grazing all the time.

And second  –  the farm where we board only has grass pastures.  So, it’s very hard to find a place without grass in the Spring, Summer and Fall.  Winter’s easy because we live in northern Illinois and the grass is dead.

Last year, we muzzled her during the day and brought her into a small, dirt paddock at night.  It really didn’t work out so well.  She was sore for most of the year.

This year, we decided to muzzle her 24 hours a day and keep her out on the grass pasture with the herd.  So, far, she is doing amazing.  She isn’t sore.  She runs around and is her old, feisty self.

princess muzzleWe also have her on Chinese Herbs for laminitic horses, Dr. Dan’s Just Add Oats nutritional supplement, A Magnesium Cookie and lately I’ve been adding two Tbsp of Braggs apple cider vinegar which is supposed to help the body metabolize sugar slower.

Our farrior also talked us into trying rubber shoes.  We are usually against shoes, but these

princess shoe bottom

are rubber, so they flex more than steel ones to allow her hoofs to still have air flow.  They are screwed in from the top also.  When I saw him do this, I cringed, but Princess had her eyes half closed and was napping the whole time, so it didn’t hurt her at all.

princess hoof screws

The lamina is the substance inside the hoof wall that connects the protective outer layering of the hoof – the hoof wall – to the internal structures of the hoof.  When a horse has laminitis the lamina gets inflamed and the hoof wall is compromised, so the shoe is helping keep her hoof wall connected to the laminae as she heals.

We really don’t know what is helping her – all of it?  But I think that movement is key in the success we’ve had this year.  And getting limited grass because of the muzzle.  We do let her freely graze for an hour or two also, when we come each day.  But movement.  It is so important for a horse’s health, both mentally and physically.

princess 3

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Fence Fixing

chute from other sideLast summer we created a chute that went through a section of woods from one pasture to another.  Come Spring, however, the horses decided they wanted to be on the other side of the fence.  Grass is always greener, yah know.  So, they unhooked the electric, and broke down the rope.  When we jerry-rigged that, some of them jumped the fence.  Or otherwise, magically appeared on the other side of the fence – no evidence of how they got there?  This last weekend we mended the fence or actually tore the whole thing down and started over.

We bought wooden posts – 8 feet long by 5.

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And cable wire. (bought a roll of it from Horse Fence Direct)

We rented an auger for the day at Home Depot.

We bought a very long drill bit.

We dug the holes, put in the posts, drilled five holes in each post (measured a foot apart), strung the cable and created a beautiful, new fence.

fence side

Lessons Learned:

  • Bring a battery back-up for your drill and a way to recharge it in your truck.
  • Use a separate post to pound down the dirt around the posts you have just inserted in hole.
  • If you drive your vehicle into the pasture, your horses will want to help you.
  • horses and van (2)horses and truck

 

  • Horses like to play with windshield wipers. (who knew?)

Right now there is no electric, but we plan to add that as time allows.  So far the horses have left the fence alone, but come Fall as the grass starts to die in the pasture, I’m pretty sure what’s on the other side of this new, much taller, much more sturdy fence will look too good to ignore and the horses will find a way to get around it.  They are magic that way.

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Princess and her Laminitis

So, Princess is a laminitic horse.  She is a Morgan/Saddlebred.  She’s more Morgan than Saddlebred (I’d say anyway).  Last fall she started to become Insulin Resistant and Laminitic.  That’s a big problem, especially since our horses live 24/7 on grass pasture.  And it broke my heart because I truly believe horses should have lives free and grazing all the time.  But we had no choice but to take her off grass for awhile anyway.  We got her body stable by bringing her into a stall at night for a few weeks and then muzzled out with the herd during the day. princess headThe grass doesn’t grow in Illinois in the winter, so she got to be out again 24/7 once November came and the grass died.  We tried various herbs and supplements through the winter.  princessThen, as it always does, Spring came.  We were very nervous because with Spring comes sweet, new grass.  We decided to muzzle her in the day and putting her into a dirt paddock/shelter area at night with one or two of the other pasture horses.  There is an older Arabian named Nysa in the picture below who is arthritic and likes coming in with Princess for a rest from the herd at night.  Sometimes we put Belle in there too (behind the pole) as she gets a little fat in summer, so a break from the grass works and she loves being with Princess.

prnicess and nyssa

At the start of spring, we gave her two containers of Dr. Dan’s Critical Care supplement which seemed to work well, but it’s very expensive and is not meant to be given more than a few times.  We also tried Chinese herbs from For Love of the Horse also a bit expensive for us.  As spring ended and summer arrived, we took off the muzzle during the day. Sometimes she took it off herself.  The pasture she’s in is about 30 acres or so, so finding it was never easy.  So we decided to go without it.   We found a local woman named Margaret Reiland who works with Chinese Herbs and does acupressure.  She came out and looked at Princess and did accupressure and has mixed a formula of herbs for her.  Margaret also has a laminitic horse who is on grass pasture 24/7 and is using her formula.

We watched Princess like a hawk and she seemed to be doing well.  Then one weekend Rachael and her boyfriend took Princess on a camping trip.  It turned out the terrain where they went was extremely rocky and hard.  Princess came back with very chewed up and sore feet.  She also got an abscess from the experience.  We continued our routine though – out of grass during the day, in dirt paddock at night.

princess and majorSo, far so good.  We even had her x-rayed again the other day and there is no more movement of the coffin bone, so we feel we are on the right track.

 

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Belle

Belle is an Arabian – about five years old.  She was a rescue.  She and her father were brought to a barn where we used to board.  In fact, it was their second time being rescued from neglect.  We’ve had her now for about two years.

This is Belle.  Isn’t she cute?

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belle resting_close

belle at night

Since Belle was malnourished at least twice in her life we waited to ride her.  And frankly for any horse we believe it’s best to wait till they are five or six to start riding seriously.  It does take that long for a horse to be fully grown.  Recently, my daughter Rachael got on her.  Before she actually got on though, we spent months, walking and trotting her with only the saddle on.  We would hang on the saddle or put one foot in then out.  We got her used to the mounting block too.  Then Rachael got on, while I lead them around with a lead rope attached.

 

 

rachael on belle

She doesn’t seem to have too much trouble with a rider.  She tends to go very slow as if she’s afraid you might fall off if she goes faster.  The problem, we learned the hard way, is that she gets scared when other horses get too close to her.  She is a horse that is at the bottom of the herd hierarchy and runs away from other horses, or skips, or bucks.

Since she is a very small Arabian, and we really didn’t have any riding plans for her, but just wanted to give her a loving home, we’ve decided to try driving with her.  It’s something we’ve never done before and will require a lot of training from the ground, but we are going to give it a try.  We’ll keep you posted as we move forward.

 

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