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!

 

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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!

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!

 

The Road Trip (of a life time)

To read the notes I took during the clinic, go to “Notes from the Charlotte Dujardin clinic“.

Post about how I got the tickets for the clinic: Once in a Lifetime

Although I only had one ticket for the clinic, my wonderful husband ended up going with me. Lucky for me he did!

Hubby was driving, and we had just pulled onto the off ramp when he casually says “We have no brakes”. Totally calm about it. I, of course, have 20 seconds of “What’d he just say?” followed immediately by extreme panic!

Hubby got us safely off the highway and coasted into a gas station. That man can seriously drive!  And then he was able to patch the brakes up enough to allow us to carry on with the road trip.

Yay!

The awesome handy man!

Brake fluid trail

Plugging the leak

He was coated in brake fluid afterward. Poor guy. Head to toe covered. And he broke his favorite tool. Not a good trip for the poor hubby, but boy was I glad he came!

The entire drive there and back took much longer than we anticipated. We left the house before 10am Friday. Google maps said it was less than a five hour drive to the clinic. That should’ve put us there about 3pm. Clinic rides started at 4:00.

Plenty of time…

Well, even though the brake issue took up an unexpected 30 minutes of our time, it still took us 6 hours and 42 minutes to get there. That included one short bathroom break and the brake line fix.

It was such a loooonnnnggg drive!

Since my hubby is a night owl,  we headed home right after the clinic.  He can’t sleep at night anyway.  Plus,  I was antsy to get home.

The ride home wasn’t much shorter. We ended up getting home about 4am. Left the clinic around 9:30pm.

The other funny thing that came out of that trip… I had asked the next door neighbor (who also owns horses)  if she could feed mine Friday evening while I was gone.  I set all the food next to their doors so that all she had to do was dump each bucket in to the feeders (access from outside of the stall) and kick the hay in.  Quick and easy.

However,  I knew my neighbor’s boarder was also coming. Nice guy, but he loves to get in Ava’s stall and pet her.

If I’m there,  I can usually nip Ava’s evil side in the bud before she escalates. When I’m not there, Ava can be downright evil.  I didn’t want to come home and hear about how Ava kicked him,  or bit him,  or trampled him…  (all things she’s done with other people before). So I left instructions for the neighbors not to go in Ava’s stall, at all.

The other two horses? Knock yourself out. Hang on them, lay under them… do what ever you want. Those two are saints.

Ava? Nope. Kick the hay in, slam the door. Do not go in.

So… Of course they went in anyway.

I didn’t find any dead bodies when I got home  — as if i wouldn’t have immediately implemented the “Shovel and Shut Up”  protocol if I had!

Ironically, I only knew that they’d gone in to Ava’s stall because they made sure to specifically let me know they’d gone in Ava’s stall.

Oh, and they were offended that I’d asked them not to.

tenor

 

 

Horse people are freaking NUTS! 

 

 

 

Once in a Lifetime

I do occasional volunteer work for the USDF Region 2 Director (few hours a month, not much).  It makes me feel like I’m still a part of the dressage community. Makes me feel like I’m contributing in some small way.

Anyway, a month or so ago the organizer for the Charlotte Dujardin clinic approached the Region 2 Director about advertising for the clinic at the end of September.  I happened to see that the organizer was offering free tickets in exchange, so I may have pressured the Director to follow up on that.

Totally altruistic! 😉

No really, I had good intentions. The plan was to give them away to the people who volunteered to help out at the Region 2 Championship show. Unfortunately we didn’t get the tickets in time.

Then we tried to give them away to people who would volunteer to work the Annual Convention.

No takers.

So there we were… sitting on four free tickets, for an event in just a few days.

.

.

.

The Region 2 Director asked if I wanted two of the tickets.

ME?!

OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG!

YES!!!!!

But I’m broke. Capital B – Broke.

I don’t think I can afford the gas down there. It’s a 5 hour drive. The clinic doesn’t end until after 9pm. It’s a 5 hour drive back. I can’t afford lodging. I can’t afford gas… I can’t afford this. I shouldn’t go! 

I decided instead that I would ask one of the up-and-coming, local, dressage trainers that I really admire if she’d like the tickets. I emailed her and waited.

As SOON as I hit send.. my heart sank. I immediately regretted it. I was depressed. The whole world sucked. My life sucked. I hated everyone.  [insert extreme self-pity here]

Ha! I didn’t realize how badly I had wanted to go until I realized I couldn’t go…

And of course, the lady responded in less than an hour. Yes, she’d love to go. She’s thrilled. Great opportunity, etc…

Of course she wanted them.

I couldn’t go…

[extreme sad face]

.

.

BUT, she only needed one ticket. Not two….

WHAT?!?

No way!!!!

Now the whole world is a magical place! I’m ecstatic! There are rainbows and unicorns dotting the fields. I’m on cloud nine!!

Yeah… I guess it meant more to me then I thought it did.

So, I’m going. It’s still a 10 hour round trip drive for basically a 4 hour clinic. It still means I’ll have to sleep in my car or drive home through the night. It still means we probably won’t be able to eat for a month (I could stand to lose weight anyway). But….

I GET TO GO TO THE Charlotte Dujardin clinic on Friday!!

Something like this is once in a lifetime for me.

[Eminem’s Lose Yourself theme music  playing in the background]

Free tickets, a location I can drive to within a day, AND I already had the day off from work.  It’s fate! Haha

So, Yay! Woo Hoo!

 

Wilmington-Rider-List

 

Broken Ponys

I have no idea what happened,  but both Ava and Joy went lame within days of each other.

The real reason is because I had an event I wanted to take one of them to this coming Saturday. I was really excited about it too. Like, extremely.

Since I didn’t care which mare to take, they obviously both had to go lame. Spoiling the owners fun would’t work unless they successfully went lame in tandem.

Farrier suspects abscess in Joy,  but couldn’t find any pockets.  He wasn’t sure with Ava.

Actually, my big fear was laminitis again.  I don’t think it is though.  Both mares are lacking the heat,  pulses,  etc. Appears to be only one foot in both.  And they had no issues holding either hoof up for farrier on hard concrete.  So,  I think, knock on wood,  that it’s not the dreaded L word.

Ava however is feeling frisky enough to set up a barrage of kicking at the wall. She’s obviously mortally wounded and at deaths door.

Farrier packed Joy’s hoof with drawing salve last Friday. I didn’t see any difference in the hoof/dressing a couple days later, but she’s moving around better. Not totally sound, but not three legged lame either.

Edit to Add: I let both mares out in the pasture last night.  Ava drops,  rolls,  gets up and pushes off into a gallop,  farts,  aims a big buck right at me,  and immediately crashes flat on her side. 😂 She jumps back up,  shakes the dust off,  and casually strolls out toward the field like she meant that.  I might have been more empathetic toward the fall if she hadn’t been aiming her hind feet at me when she lost her balance.  Little snot.  Apparently no harm done.  A minor ding to her massive ego.  😁

Did I link my last video of Joy (for those of you not subscribed on youtube)? If not, here it is:

I have bending issues to the left on both my horses. I’m 99% sure it’s me, but STILL not sure how to fix it.  Example: the walk pirouette left.. had a really hard time wrapping her around my left leg (didn’t really accomplish it).

The Death Wish

I’ve had this wild thought in the back of my head for several years now of trying eventing.  

It’s insane.  I’m petrified of jumping.  

It took me 2 years to get comfortable with ground poles.  I spent the first 3 months of of trotting over one ground pole with my eyes clamped shut every time we got close to it and praying until we were over it.  I still can’t canter over one.  

I’m a chicken. 🐔

But,  a mere 2 years later,  and I can now ride 3 or 4 trot poles in a row with my eye’s OPEN,  at least 60% of the time.   😂 

Anyway,  a few weeks ago I went to a local 3 day event to watch.  My real reason was to assess the jumps,  the riders, etc.  It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,  but fear and other priorities have always held me back.  

When I scoped out the event,  the course looked awesome.  They had this great beginner level course set up that was literally small logs on the ground.  The riders were so freakin’ nice.  I stopped a few people to ask where to go,  or where not to stand,  and everyone happily helped. Just super nice people.

But,  what I really liked…  All the horses were Normal.  A bunch of unknown origin ponies,  a lot of TBs,  several drafty looking crosses.  The riders ranged from the super athletic looking ladies to the large bottomed,  flabbier,  older adult looking riders (they looked like ME!!).  

So,  I thought,  why not?  I can try it once.

Better than always wishing I had and regretting it when it’s too late. 

So I signed up for jumping lessons.  

Then utterly freaked because I don’t have the money.  So i texted everyone I knew asking if they needed work done in exchange for $40. 

I’m pathetic.  

Now I need to find an extra $40 every two weeks over the winter.  Aarrggh! 

I don’t think my friends and family are going to employee me enough to support my riding issues.  

If only I could get overtime pay for overtime work (thank you salary rules 😡 grrr). 

I’ll have to figure something out.  I’d really like to try just one event. At least to know I conquered my fear and made a dream a reality.  I’m never going to be an upper level dressage rider.  Nor do I have the money to afford rated dressage shows.  But competing in one beginner level,  local,  3 day event is something I could cross off the bucket list. 

I may need to start selling blood to make this happen though.  😯

There’s got to be someway I can earn an extra $80/month…

Hunter Clinic

As a poor sap who really doesn’t understand “Hunter land”,  i was a bit lost on the intricacies of the clinic.  However,  man,  was I impressed when the clinician made them all do basic dressage work to start off.  It was nice to see that good fundamentals are fundamentals for everything.  

You know what really shocked me…  Each group lesson was 2 hours long.  

My horse would’ve died.  

I would’ve died.  😂 

Makes me recommitted to doing more endurance work with my horses.  Not that I’ll probably ever do “Hunters”, but mine are exhausted after 20 minutes.  Kind of pathetic after watching these machines go for 2 hours straight. 

Anyway,  first group I watched was rather disheartening.  Didn’t seem able to steer,  stop,  or go.  It was like watching kamikaze fighters dive bombing fences. Scary,  yet mesmorizing. 

Second group was much better.  You could actually see shortening and lengtheing strides,  balancing the horse,  etc.  One of the riders had the most to die for flying changes I’ve ever seen in real life.  Just amazing.  None of the late behind,  shuffle change,  weirdness I sometimes see passed off as flying changes.

Oh,  they even had a few older riders in the mix.  That was cool to see.  One older lady’s chestnut got a bug up its butt and decided to hop,  buck,  around.  That little lady stayed glued to the saddle.  Quite impressive to see.  My heart was in my throat watching it though! 

Hunter world, to me, is a crazed land of perfectionist insanity that both fascinates and appalls me.  😁 


It was interesting to watch the clinic. A lot of good stuff talked about.  Applicable to any horse rider.  I actually learned a few things,  so that was cool.  And as always,  I’ve gained a deeper respect for the difficulties my sister disciplines face.  

Best part EVER… not a single freaking auditing fee!!  *cough* dressage people *cough*  Anyone who wanted to come and learn was welcome to watch.  Even a naive fool like me was welcomed. 

So there I was,  dressage rider,  watching a hunter clinic.  😀

It was fun and educational!