Agricultural Extension – Use it!

To find your local Agricultural county office, check this link: http://pickyourown.org/countyextensionagentoffices.htm

Or do what I did, and Google “agricultural extension office [your] county”.

What can you use them for?

Everything!

Why you should use them?

They’re free!

Most of the extension offices also have facebook pages. I’ve checked out several of the FB pages of neighboring states, and they offer everything from courses on equine senior care to assistance with health insurance.

My experience:

Since I’m easily confused and was having difficulty finding an answer to a specific question (how to get free water testing), I simply emailed the main contact email address on my county’s agricultural extension web page.  This was during a holiday, so it did take a couple days for them to respond (I assume gov offices were closed).

I was then put in touch with a person who works with the top veterinary college in my state. Within a few days, we had set up an appointment for him and an equine veterinarian from the college to come to my house to check out everything (from what grew in my pasture, to what I was feeding, right down to the health and condition of my horses).

They walked me through what I was feeding (hay and supplements) and suggested some tweaks to ensure I was providing all the minerals/nutrients that the horses needed.

They answered the billion questions I had about how to test hay, where to send it for testing, and how to interpret the results. They brought out a hay corer to get samples of my hay, and helped me package it up for shipping to be analyzed. They then gave me a direct contact to a equine nutritional expert to help me interpret the results.

In addition to this, they sent me resources for more information on iron levels in horses, gave me instructions on how to build my own hay probe (because I refuse to pay $200 to buy one), and discussed best practices for how to manage my IR horses with my existing set up.

I’d strongly recommend that you take advantage of this resource. It’s completely free, and is beneficial to both beginners and the knowledgeable horse folks out there.

Hay Testing:

http://equi-analytical.com/standard-analytical-services/

  • Fast-Track = $18.00
  • Equi-Track = $28.00

They’ll email, or snail mail, a copy of the report to you.

Hay Report Sample

Hay Report Sample

You may need to research how to interpret the results, or contact your Ag department for help.

There are also some good websites with information on interpreting results: https://extension.msstate.edu/sites/default/files/publications/publications/p2620.pdf

 

Hay Probes:

List of Hay Probes: http://www.foragetesting.org/index.php?page=hay_probes

You can also make one from a golf club, or ask your Ag department to bring one out when they come out.

 

Overall, absolutely the best resource to have available. It’s completely free. They’re wonderfully nice, helpful, and a joy to work with. I think every one of you should take advantage of these services.

And if you can’t find what you’re looking for on their website, contact them!

 

Advertisements

Hiatus Over

I think I’m past the worst of the crazy events this year. Time to get back to.. *drum roll*.. . blogging about horse adventures!

First, I’d like to introduce you to my new farm dog, Polar.

9 week old, Great Pyrenees.

I got him last week, and have heard nothing but horror stories about the breed’s independent streak since then.

He’ll out weigh me in a few months.

This’ll go great! 😂

Ava and Joy are doing better, and we’ve got some fun activities planned whenever the weather improves again.

Ava

Ava thought it too bright out

I have a post I’m working on about the ag department and hay analysis (as soon as I get the rest of the info i need), and I’m hoping to have some more entertaining posts coming soon.

So, stay tuned. And I hope you’re all having a great time riding!

Unexpected Noises

My embarrassing confession…

Last night I was riding Ava. I find she works best if I keep my upper body absolutely still and balanced over top of her. Which means, I really have to work hard at keeping my core engaged and strong while she launches me through the roof at the trot.

I’m trotting around, really focused on keeping my ab’s and core as tight and stable as possible, my arms loose, my knees off, my aids clear and concise.

I’m focused on keeping those ab’s tight!

Ava’s feeling wonderful with her big, bouncy trot and she’s staying straight and pushing through.

When suddenly…

I farted!

Loudly!

Which scared Ava, who jumped and shot off like a bomb had gone off on her back.

I was laughing so hard I could barely catch my breath.

giphy

All that ab tension just shot the gas right out of me!

unicorn-1444840313

 

Sometimes it’s good to ride alone. 🙂

 

 

 

Ava Update

I got the results from the vet today!

Nothing’s wrong.

tumblr_inline_oqbvjo6usu1sx6xct_540

 

Healthy as a…

wait for it…

horse.

 

It does mean it’s not liver failure. That’s good. No other signs of infections or oddities.

I did ask him if he could also test iron levels, since he has the blood, and it’s already at the lab. Not that it’s related, but I keep reading that high iron levels can really wreck havoc in some horses. We have high levels of iron in my state, and we’re well water here.

It’ll make me feel better if I know they’re normal levels.

 

Anyway, vet said Ava’s cleared to ride again.

With the caveat of “jump off fast” if she seems like she’s going to have another seizure.

tumblr_nuhc6fmgjx1u8thavo1_400-thumb-7acfb30a9d8888d705fa4711c0191b08

giphy

 

Bent solid metal

I don’t know how to express how utterly horrifying this was for me…

Last Friday I went out to feed breakfast.  I was talking to myself,  as usual,  on the way down to the barn and heard Ava and Joy nicker back at me when they heard me approaching.

I open the door to the barn,  step in,  and glance over to see Ava and Joy standing by their doors waiting on breakfast. Before I can even turn to start getting hay,  I see Ava slowly start sinking backward over her haunches.  Almost as if she’s stretching her front legs.  Except,  she keeps sinking backward.  To the point where I’m pretty sure she’s going to roll over backwards if she doesn’t stop soon.

I was frozen,  staring at her as she slowly started toppling backwards.  A growing sense of dread was filling me.

And then pandemonium broke loose.

Ava panicked,  scrambled to get her feet back under her,  but couldn’t.  She fell into the middle divider, which cracked and groaned,  then started falling the other direction. She spun around,  and slammed her rear end into the front wall so hard I saw the whole wall bow out toward me. Parts popped off the door and shot across the barn. I was so sure that the entire wall would come crashing down on top of me that I dove out the barn door. 

When it held,  I ran back in and saw Ava desperately trying to keep her feet, but slamming herself into everything, until finally she fell hard, wedged up into a corner.  Her legs furiously kicking.

I couldn’t breathe.

I couldn’t help her.

I could barely pull out my phone,  my hands were shaking so hard. Finally got the vets voice mail and left them a hysterical voice message. 

By the time I finished leaving a message,  Ava had somehow gotten to her feet again.  She was facing away from me,  her head hung low, not moving. 

I was scared to death to enter the stall.

I felt like a coward.

Within a few minutes,  Ava turned back towards me.  We stared at each other a moment while i tried to make “everything’ll be fine noises” at her, but I’m pretty sure came out more as “holy crap we’re fucked!” noises.

I waited for the next crash.

I waited for something.

But nothing happened…

It was like absolutely fucking NOTHING had happened to her!

If it weren’t for the shattered hanging buckets, the cracked stall boards,  and the metal feeder being bent at new angles,  you’d never guess anything had occurred.  All that pandemonium,  all that crazy,  and Ava’s just standing there like nothing happened…

I was still not trusting the calm,  but I cracked the stall door a touch and tossed in a bit of hay… then quickly shut and locked it again.  Ava ate as I stood at the stall door.  After a minute she stepped closer to the door and pushed her neck up against it for me to rub.  She seemed to want contact, so i scratched her through the bars…   feeling like an asshole for being to chicken to open the door,  but not trusting that whatever happened wouldn’t happen again at any second.

It wasn’t too much longer after that,  and the vet’s office called back.

By the time the vet got here,  Ava had cleaned up all her hay,  plus more hay,  and was acting “normal”.  She was even feeling snarky enough to glare at Joy and try to kick Jessie through the fence.

Vet thinks she had a grand mal seizure.  He took blood, checked her heart and lungs (healthy).  We’re still waiting on blood work results.  The vet said it could be liver,  it could be brain,  it could be anything and undetectable. It may never happen again,  it may be cyclical,  it may get worse.

I even asked him to check out my feed,  as a desperate gamble to find anything that may have cause it,  and he said what I was feeding and how much was good.

Ava seems fine now.  She’s eating well,  drinking well.  She’s enjoying roaming the pasture and harassing Jessie and Joy.

But… What do i do now?!

Goddammit!

The entire week I’ve been stuck.  Ava had a seizure.  Not a little,  “wow, that’s weird”, seizure,  but a big,  destroy solid walls and bend metal, seizure.  And all week,  everyone acts like nothing happened.   

But I’m stuck at that single point in time.  

What the hell do i do now?! 

What would you do? 

Lessons in Winter – Part 856,001+

My cohorts bailed AGAIN!

Lessons in Winter

I get a private lesson tonight. This should be fun. I barely make it through a group lesson, and I can cheat during those.

“You asked if I did two point the whole lap of the arena?… Uhm, yeeaaah, I did”
**shifty look**

God, I hope the instructor doesn’t read this blog… 

It’s a balmy 25 degrees with a “Feels Like” of 12. We’re positively tropical here compared to the last two days.

What are my cohorts waiting for? Above freezing?!
As if that’ll happen before April. HA!

Your winter wonderland horse pictures:

Lessons in Winter

I was supposed to have a group jumping lesson Wednesday night, but my cohorts bailed. Something about it being in the teens caused them to re-think their life goals, I guess.

I haven’t been riding the past two weeks anyway. I sat on Ava once for a short bit. That’s all. The rest of the time has been spent fighting with broken equipment, shoveling snow, and trying to keep my fingers from falling off while cleaning stalls.

Luckily, the lesson barn let me ride with the Thursday group lesson.  

And of course, Thursday was single digit temps…   I should’ve asked for a private lesson Wednesday.  😂 

Thursday’s group consists of three kids. All of whom were mute. I tried talking to one before the lesson,  but from her expression I am either an ax murderer,  or I have some seriously hideous visage which upset her.  

I’m using the term “kid”  loosely.  They appear to be allowed to drive,  so I assume they’re over 16. 

The instructor had mentioned a while ago that the Thursday class was a bit more advanced then the Wednesday class.  So I was really looking forward to testing my skills against better riders.  I guess I had assumed they’d all been jumping for years,  were knocking out 3 foot jumps,  and had mastered the basics of jumping by this point. 

Reality: they were a very,  very small step,  incrementally,  better then the group I ride with on Wednesdays.  But apparently just as unwilling to be the first one up,  the first one over, etc.  Bah. 

At one point the instructor gave us directions on the next exercise she wanted us to do,  and absolutely NO ONE MOVED.  She explains it again, expecting the kid at the front of the line to go when she undertsands what to do.  No one moves. 

I was at the end of the pack,  so I yelled out,  “Do you mean now?”  

“Yes,  now!”

No one moves… 

So, i pick up a trot and head to the front to start the exercise.  

Why does a middle aged,  fat,  out of shape lady gotta show the athletic,  young whipper snappers how it’s done?! 

That’s just sad…

Kids, don’t be the sad sack that lets old ladies show you up. 😁

One of the exercises had us jump a diagonal line,  but first and third jump were offset. So,  normally you’d do the straight line on the sides,  and the one on the diagonal.  This exercise we did the first jump off the straight line at a bit of an angle,  then the jump on the diagonal,  and third jump on the far straightline at a bit of an angle.  

Primitive cave man drawing of jump setup

I had to try that three times.  I’d get the pony set up on a bit of a diagonal line over the first jump, then try to bend her a bit more for the second jump,  but by that time the pony was like “NOPE!  We’re going around!”  We only had about a stride or two between the jumps.  Things happened QUICK! 

Third time,  I had a bit steeper angle over the first jump and began the approach to the second before we left the ground for the first,  and then I could angle her toward the middle of the second jump.  It all flowed smoothly after that.  Well,  sort of..  Pony did great.  I kind of just tried to stay out of the way, and I dropped the reins on the second jump.  Bad habit of mine.  Second the horse pulls I let the reins slide.  

Pony: “I’m going BIG!” 

Me: [Throws reins at horse] “Whatever you gotta do,  Pony.  Just don’t crash!” 

It was SO MUCH FUN!! 

I can’t wait to do it again! 

2017 Down the Drain

Is it just me, or does it seem like the beginning of this year was eons ago…

Let’s see.. what happened this year? Some of this stuff seems like it happened so long ago… Then again, I have the memory of a gold fish… so yesterday was sooooo long ago! HA!

The big events for Joy:

  • Went on her very first trailer ride.
  • Went to her very first show!
  • Went to her very first lesson in an indoor arena.

 

First show!

The big events for me:

  • Went to my very first jumping lesson!
  • Jumped my very first line of jumps!
  • Cantered over a jump for the first time!
  • Have (almost) overcome (mostly) my fear of cross rails.
  • Audited the Charlotte Dujardin clinic.
  • Catch rode some really fun horses.

Jumping!

On top of that, Hubby and I put in some long, hard hours extending the arena. It feels so huge now. I’m loving it!

New arena

Some where in that mix, Hubby changed the paddock arrangement around so Joy would stop kicking Jessie off her food.

Oh, and I had some really fun times hanging out with other horse people this year. I’m hoping there’ll be more of that in the coming year!

On the sad side,  my super awesome dog,  Dax,  died this year.

I miss this big lug.

We had some rough times keeping weight on Jessie coming out of winter,  but sorted her out with a new feed program.

And then more issues with Jessie that lead to more changes in feed,  but I think we may have it sorted out again (I hope!).

I forced hubby to clean the barn gutters and roof,  so people would stop laughing at our gutter garden.

Great job Hubby!

I had some fun trail rides on Ava, and some rather exciting trail rides with Joy.

Ava!

But now it’s cold,  and there’s too much snow,  and all our equipment is breaking..



My back hurts, I can’t ever seem to get warm, my body aches, and there’s always fresh snow to shovel the next day.

I had to shovel snow just to open/close and close the gates!

I’m seriously over this year!

But… the optimist in me is looking forward to a fun filled 2018!

I’m hoping to get Joy to a dressage schooling show this spring (at least one), and I’m looking forward to riding with friend’s more this year. I’m also secretly hoping I can get Joy going over some low level jumps, and I’d like to get Ava out and about to go trail riding with friends or maybe even to a lesson or a show with her.

Which ever path you take, embrace the adventure.  Unless it’s snowing, then STAY INSIDE!

Stay safe everyone, and Happy New Year!

 

Need More Beer

It is bitterly cold. The kind of cold that makes your fingers numb within seconds, the snot freezes instantly in your nose, and the air hurts your lungs to breathe. Touching anything metal without gloves on is a sure fire way to lose some skin.

Everything is a massive undertaking to accomplish. Even just letting the horses out into the main pasture has become a slog.

 

I’m becoming convinced that the only way to handle winter is through inebriation.


 

I’m seeing people post pictures of themselves riding in indoor arenas, wearing their posh riding attire, while riding their perfectly clipped horses…

And then there’s me….

If I go much more redneck with this, I’ll be disbarred from the dressage community entirely.


There’s a facebook group I belong to where real life vet’s answer common people questions about horses. One of the questions was when is it too cold to ride. Vet made it seem like anything above 5 degrees was fine to ride in.

If this is true, this removes my most common excuse not to ride in the winter. Which is good, right? Except, Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

I keep trying to convince myself I’m more of a badass because I ride outside all year long, but secretly I really just want to tuck myself into an indoor for the rest of the winter.

frozen

 

 

36 Bottles of Beer on the wall

Jessie, the 32 year old mare, suddenly stopped eating Friday. Completely unlike her. I was a bit perplexed by the behavior,  because otherwise she seemed completely fine.  I monitored her Friday for any signs of distress,  but other than not eating her hay pellets and grain,  she seemed absolutely normal.

Saturday,  still not eating.

Sunday, stttiiiiillll not eating…

Monday, I had the vet-dentist out.  One of her teeth had broken,  half was flopping around,  and the other half well embedded.  Vet pulled it. I nearly barfed.

I’m such a pansy.

Vet had Jessie all doped up.  Nicely sedated,  lidocaine to numb the area,  a shot of banimine when she was done.

I could’ve used some sedation when I got the bill! Ack!!

It’s now Wednesday,  and Jessie still won’t touch her regular grain.  I had to switch it out with the grain I feed my two.  She devoured that.  No idea why her grain,  that she used to love,  is no longer an option.

I’m also forced to shove antibiotics down her gullet twice a day like dewormer since she is being so picky about her food.  The paste is now coating the barn floor,  my saddles,  in my hair,  all over my coat,  and even on my glasses.  I am not doing so well getting it to stay in her mouth.

Any wisdom on food stuffs the old gal might eat?  It seems like the mushier it is,  the less she likes it.  So far she’s only interested in the hard stuff.  Add water and she immediately turns her nose up at it.  Which perplexes me.  I would’ve thought mushier would be better.  She hates any type of syrups. She’s not all that fond of applesauce or apples.

At least she’s eating the other horses grain and trying to eat hay…

I keep putting out different food options for her to try.

She can’t really eat hay, she just cuds most of it up and spits it out, but she gave it a go anyway.

Yeah, ok, sometimes I let her wander the barn… Not the safest thing to do, but she’s so level headed… and sllooooowwww….

She wanted in the feed room. Wasn’t gonna happen. 😂

I hope she gets back to her old,  with gusto,  eating habits soon.  I hope it was just that tooth,  and no other issues crop up.  She’s such a sweet mare.

Other than the tooth issue,  the vet gave Jessie a glowing report on her health.  Great lungs,  great heart, remaining teeth look great.

Google says that the average mare has 36 teeth. We’re down to 33 now.

She’s lost 3 in one year! Ouch!