Saturday, April 26, 2008

We are making progress!

Yesterday we had a huge snowfall for this late during breakup. I got a scant nine inches at my place, while others got a foot and more. Just when things were starting to dry up too!
The photos are from today, the 26th of April. Sorry about the color tint, I think I must have a setting screwy on my digital camera that I can't figure out. It was very very bright out, and why these came out with blue tints I have no idea. The one picture that has the odd coloring was from my attempt at adjusting the tint. Um, not!
Anyhow, as you can hopefully see, we have and are making good progress! I used the weight tape on her three times, coming up with an average that puts her at just about 1000 pounds, or perhaps very slightly under that. For condition score, I would put her about a 3.5 on the Henneke condition score chart.
This morning when I went to feed, the horses were all pretty "fresh". There was a lot of charging around, bucking, blowing and generally being silly and goofy. I was pleased to see the mare join in the activity...charging up and down the run, head flinging-she even let out a short, sharp blow :) I had completely forgotten just how big that horse's stride is! Man she can really cover the ground in nothing flat!
At the time I took the pictures, the amazing lady that comes over to help keep the barn tidy was here also. We spent a few minutes grooming and loving on her, for which she stood like a champ. This is something relatively new as during her previous time here, grooming was pretty much a dance forward (forward, check, forward, check etc) and sideways. Her survival coat is falling out and it will take hours of elbow grease to get the duff and dirt up off the skin....the coat is very scurfy, but amazingly, no lice and no rain rot either. Underneath all the yuck I see the beginnings of a healthy coat starting to show.
Since she probably was not wormed over the months she was gone, I hope she is now done rubbing her tail (she's been wormed 3 times-tonight she gets a 4th dose) and it will start to grow back in on the dock.
In other words, I am very pleased with how she is coming along!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Breakup commences!

And for those of you reading from southern climes.....the term "breakup" does not mean severing a personal relationship. Nope, for Alaskans, it means the period of time between "snow" and "green" or thereabouts.

It means-

Playing amateur hydrologist every day. You get to ply your shovel in creative ways, to encourage run off of melting snows. Trenches abound, but the old timers know that a simple slit made with the blade works equally as well. Some will succumb to sump and transfer pumps to hurry the process along. This works really well if you have someplace to pump to, that does not flood your neighbor.....neighbors are not appreciative of being inundated with adjoining run off.

Wearing your breakup boots. Usually these are either rubber muck boots, rubber boots, or your old winter boots because you can't find the previously meantioned ones. Wearing any other sort of footwear is very risky! Shoes and slippers are easily vaccumed off your feet in mud the consistency of sticky mush. Walking on gravel/dirt driveways and paths is an exercise in carefully planning your route, going slowly enough to change direction at the slightest hint of sinking,

The first mosquitoes appear. This usually occurs about the time we have temps pushing, or above 50 degrees for a few days. Since they breed in standing water-all the more reason to get that melt water the heck off the property-or at least away from the doors and walkways. They are usually pretty slow early in the season, and remarkably large too. Their bites remind you to locate the bottle of bug dope you stashed somewhere or other, or stop by the store to get some. Of course, there will be a run on bug dope everywhere now......they are out in force in some areas but have not appeared at my house as yet. I expect them by the weekend. (Side note: I do not know the life cycle of skeeters very well, but I do wonder just how it is they survive the freeze/thaw cycles we have in the spring-I mean, where do they go when it's 28 degrees at night? Anyone know?)

Almost every vehicle on the road is breakup colored. By that I mean.....dried mud color. Anyone driving a shiny vehicle right now, either lives on pavement, or is rather anal about washing their car. For myself, I give in and wash about every ten days. If I don't, the dried mud tends to stay caked on the sides which means I get to wear smears of it on my clothing from time to time.

Gardeners are anxiously checking their planting areas for frost depth, not to mention precious perennials for signs of life. Bushes are starting to bud, and so are the trees. Many folks are miserable with allergies (myself included) but so far, no big winds off the Knik or Matanuska glaciers-so no silt in the air to contend with.

All this sunshine shows just exactly how nasty all the windows in the house got over the winter. You can add your car windows as well, they do seem to acquire some sort of film inside and out over the winter months. I find the spring car window cleaning a real challenge myself, but a necessary chore.

Some folks are already raking and burning lawn debris.....right around my house, I still have some snow so being able to walk on a firm surface is about another week out or so. Areas more exposed to winds are way ahead of folks in wooded areas who are not-they probably still have little patches of snow in between trees, just like I do.

At the barn, the paddocks are a mucky mess. Manure cleaning is tedious and we have to carefully plan where to drive the four wheeler (with trailer) so as not to get stuck in the goo. All that large gravel we put in the three stalls has sure paid off, though! Those three stalls are bone dry, and while the gravel outside the stalls is being slowly worked into the's been a real plus not to have them standing in water this spring. I am betting it will be about another week to ten days before things really firm up.

Which is really what breakup is all about-waiting for that change from winter to spring, and I generally think of breakup being over along about the time the trees leaf out. Which is roughly Mother's Day in my area.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Weekend picture :)

I think the pictures speak for themselves :) When the AC officer arrived on Saturday morning, it was already in the mid 40s and she was pretty warm under the heavy winter blanket. I left it on purposely because I knew what a great surprise was in store. You should have seen his face when I took it off-his eyes lit up, got moist, and he started just beaming ;) He couldn't believe the change, and was absolutely thrilled with the progress! We both condition scored, and placed her at a 3, or just scantly above that. Interestingly enough, we have totally differing weight tapes. So we spent a few minutes trying to determine just exactly where I should be using that. His tape put her at 1080 on top of the highest point of the wither (no way, lol!) and mine, in the same place as before....between 960 and 970. When you have a horse with a huge wither but who has a very slim build otherwise, this is a judgement call to some degree. Still wish I had a livestock scale....he did offer to weigh her on the Boro scales if I would haul her over though ;)

Now in most cases a three is pretty danged bad (and it is!) but considering where I started-this is great progress in just three weeks. The top photo shows her condition the day she arrived at a CS 1.5, and the other two are from Sunday the 20th.
Amazing what a carefully managed diet of well balanced nutrition can do, eh?
Leta Belardi, you can suck eggs...there is nothing wrong with this horse that FOOD wouldn't remedy!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday report :)

Today, the "foster Dad" that comes over around lunch, called me to ask about taking off her blanket. We discussed just how warm she was, and we elected to remove it for the balance of the day. She was slightly damp under it, and of course it always gets warmer in the afternoons.

So when I got home, she was nekkid.

Oh my gosh, what a change in just a week! I will be taking pictures and weight taping tomorrow, and will get photo's developed in the afternoon.....after that, I have to attend the annual Alaska Equine Rescue auction-so new pictures will just have to wait until Sunday morning ;)

You visitors are going to be amazed at the change since April 1st-the day she arrived. Not even three weeks!

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

On the gardening end :)

I have been pretty busy with starting vegetables this year. I have taken 45 flats of assorted plants over to my friends' greenhouse so far, with another 8 or 10 flats still to go. And I will be starting lettuce and more broccoli, for the third time, lol

I picked up five different roses this week, and have another one coming from Jackson & Perkins here in a week or two-this is going to be a nice change as I typically only do one or two, just for show. This year, I will keep one in the greenhouse, and place the others strategically around the front of the house. Also this year, I am going to try putting a couple of tomatoes in the planters along my garage wall, since it gets very warm there and gets a lot of sun. I am hopeful for a better tomato year ahead....all told, I will have about 20, with five of those being basket tomatoes-the much sought after Tumbler.

Another friend started a whole packet of corn, from seed. As luck would have it, it has all come up and she is sharing a number of those with me also. Last year I did some in pots in the greenhouse and it did very well with the heat in there.....I am so looking forward to some corn this fall-yum!

My hanging baskets have been planted for a month already and are starting to get some size to them, I think they are going to look pretty nice. This year, I went with a red, white and blue color scheme, just for something different.

As far as the garden proper goes....last year, I had things in the ground the first week of May. This year, I will be lucky to have it even close to thawed-there was still about six inches of snow on it as of this morning. Blech. It can warm up and be break up anytime now!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hay is over with

I finally decided today to stop bringing up van loads of imported hay.

I feel really bad about this, because the hay is absolutely the best that can be found in state, and plenty of people love it. Not to mention it's way cheaper than the feed stores here, which only sell by bale on an "average".

So why would I stop?

Because people promise they will buy hay, then don't show. Don't answer emails or phone calls. Or when I do speak to them days later, it's just too inconvenient to come get it this week or that day, have to wait. Or, they found "other hay".....but of course could not be bothered to let me know this.

One previous good friend suggested quite strongly that I should not make a dime off the hay.

Sorry, I can't do that.

I now have to pay for the time on the forklift. I buy propane for the forklift too. I pay for the ads. I pay to ship the ropes back. I run the risk and expenses when checks bounce (and they have) I also spend at least 20 hours per van, on the phone. I pay for the long distance calls, which are quite a few. I give up as many as ten or more hours on weekends, waiting for no shows who don't think it's necessary to call and let me know they "got busy" or were "too broke" to get the hay they begged for and just had to have last month.

I am tired of being treated like a feed store-the whole point was to be cheaper than the feed store for higher quality hays-which I have managed to do. I still want the hay, but prefer not to drive to Anchorage to get it-so I think I will keep a sizeable pile off of this van, and let those few folks know who have expressed interest in just splitting vans directly. Those folks understand buying multiple tons, and have the resources and storage for it too.

My hub says I don't charge enough, and that I should just keep ordering vans, people will need it. I am not so confident....someone who haunts Craigslist, must have it in for me because the posts get flagged fairly quickly. I could give in, and just charge $15 a bale, but truthfully that is not fair-the bales are not a uniform weight and the whole point of doing the hay this way, was so that people would know exactly how much they paid for since it is done by pound.

This means that the 40 foot container alongside my shop that we used for extra storage will get sold. Which means the vans will have to come to my residence instead-a not very convenient location for anyone except myself.

Well so what? When they are wincing buying stemmy over mature hay from WA state in the feedstores, I won't feel the least little bit sorry for them.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Photos from Saturday

And thank heavens we took pictures yesterday, as its cloudy and spitting snow today! Please keep in mind that she has been wearing a blanket. This causes the coat to lie flat, so you can imagine what she really looked like when she first arrived................
Hard to believe she has gained so much, isn't it? But it's true. This mare was in very very bad shape when she was first impounded-keep that in mind as you compare the pictures from AC (down below on the blog) and these taken yesterday. I do plan on taking pictures once a week for comparison, at the same time she is weighed using the tape. I rather wish I had a real livestock scale, just to satisfy my curiosity between the tape and the "real thing". Her appetite continues to be good, and she is consuming almost 30 pounds a day of orchard grass, plus alfalfa, and of course the two mashes a day. I am trying to work out how to get her another mash during the day, but so far I haven't had much luck with that.....may have to settle for just a dry ration with her lunch instead.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Saturday smiles :)

Today it is sunny out, if not exactly warm at 35 degrees. I had a friend come over, and the horse's foster Dad arrived, since she was overheated in the sun, we took off the blanket.

I am delighted to say that we can see real improvement, woohoo!! Yes I took some pictures and I will get those developed tomorrow-and get them up as soon as I can-I promise!

We also weight taped her, and came up with 916. That's up from the 876 from a week ago, which I think is fairly amazing considering everything. It's easy to see that the lower third of the ribs are starting to fill in, and the gaps between the rest are shallower too. You can see a teeny bit of "butt jiggle" when she walks also. Not much of anything deposited on the upper third of the body at all, but the hip bones don't seem as stark and there does seem to be a minute amount of increase over the spinous processes.

I am just thrilled. She was wormed with ivermection dose is four days from now. (On veterinary advice, doses five days apart for ten doses) She had no troubles with that liquid squirted on the mash either, thank heavens :)

Friday, April 11, 2008

And on Friday

I am happy to pass along that the mare has finally (yippee yi yay!) gotten her old appetite back!

To say that I am thrilled is putting it mildly....previously, she had been leaving just a tad bit of grass hay between meals. Last night, on the late evening snack, her entire dinner was gone and she was definitely ready for more :) So I bumped the evening snack by about a pound, and this morning it was cleaned up and she was hungry.

As in: Iwantmybreakfastnowandrightthisinstant! hungry >vbg< So, I upped breakfast by another pound and set out a hefty lunch too. I think she is ready for free choice, YAY!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thursday progress......

Last night, I was just positive that I have some weight gain...and this morning I felt under the blanket so my eyes wouldn't contribute to assessing her. I can feel that there is some "filling in" taking place towards the last half of the rib cage. Now, it's only the lower portion of the ribs-no real gain higher up the body as yet. And, there is a slight "pudding" feeling around the tail head too.

What this means, is that she has replaced what she lost on the inside. This is a big milestone for recovery, and one that I sweat out every time. She has a lot of wasted muscle to replace and that comes on slowly-it is a balancing act, providing sufficient protiens to rebuild what has been lost, without causing other issues to occur (such as laminitis, for example) It takes a while for the entire system to start functioning normally, and once it does, appreciable weight gain is usually not far behind.

As far as the alfalfa goes-I am having second thoughts. She has always been a tad picky when it comes to hay.....she would leave coarse stems laying, picking off leaf from local timothy, for example. So with this alfalfa hay, she is doing the every feeding there is a small amount of stems left but no leaves. I am presuming this is a personal preference of hers, but I am naturally concerned that she is not consuming what she needs to. Tonight, I am going to start soaking alfie cubes to add to the mash-I'll start with just a pound twice a day and go from there.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tuesday report.........

I managed to figure out (roughly) the caloric content of the feeding regimen....and it's astounding. It exceeds the typical requirements in hay alone, never mind the two mashes a day. Figuring the grass hay at about 800 calories a pound, and the legume at just 1000, that works out to nearly 20,000 calories a day just in roughage! Wow! Then at least half again in the mashes-it's quite a bit. If the average mostly idle horse needs between 10 and 16,000 calories a's safe to say that this exceeds the minimums, haha

I was informed last night that during the day yesterday, the mare was observed to be breathing rather hard. No one thought it worth calling me, of course >rolls eyes< I checked her over carefully last night and did not see any signs of anything amiss. Heart rate, respirations, gut sounds, gums, etc, all within normal range and she appeared to be breathing normally. Manure is a little soft, but not so bad that I am overly concerned about it either. It's firming up now that I have backed off the oil and alfie just a little bit. She's bright and eagerly awaiting her meals, so I am not entirely sure what that was about-other than: She had been standing in the sun and has come into season. I am not entirely positive what happens when horses with no body fat stand around and absorb solar energy. Do they get overheated? I don't know. I did not think to take her temperature last night or this morning, so will do that this evening, just to be safe. She's consuming a normal amount of water, eating well, and is chipper over all.

I have to say that it's a little hard to wait for the results to be seen on the outside of the horse. I do know that it can take several weeks for outward weight gain to be noticeable. She needs to replenish the inside before the extra can go anywhere else-as a horse loses weight from the outside in, so they regain from inside out. Sounds weird, but it's true for the emaciated.

This morning she was very eager for breakfast. It consisted of two pounds of alfalfa hay, 5 pounds of orchard grass hay. Two pounds senior, one pound Nutrena. 1 and a half cups beet pulp (soaked with hot water) 1/2 cup of oil, and Fast Track which is a probiotic. That is as large a meal as I am comfortable feeding at one time-both volume and weight. In the evenings I add to that BOSS and flax seed for additional fats. It takes her about 15 minutes to get down the majority of the mash....then she eats hay, and eventually licks the feed pan clean within about two hours. Midday snack consists of another 2 pounds alfie and five pounds grass hay-which is the same amount she gets four times a day now. Just 28 pounds of hay a day, which is barely over what she would normally consume when healthy.

Today I contact the owner, we need to have the vet out for a once over. I am sure the vet will say I am going overboard on the diet, but in my experience, it does work quite well. I base the hay on how much is left when the next meal is due-if I add any addtional hay, it will be grass from here on out.

I am open to thoughts or comments on the heavy breathing episode. The very experienced barn help I have commented that "she smells sick" and I agree....nothing smells quite right and it probably won't until such time as her digestive tract is finally balanced and working correctly.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Saturday update

A fairly productive day today :)

First, the horse got a hoof trim. This does not sound like much on the surface, but the poor thing was standing on nearly one and a half inches of hoof wall (ouch!) The wonderful person who trims had great patience as we dealt with a horse in some was really rewarding to watch the horse figure out "hey that doesn't hurt so bad any more" and to see the hairline on the coronet return to a more normal line. The swelling on both hinds (looked nearly stocked up) had receded by about 80% within three hours.

And we put the weight tape on her-and got 874. Now, AC had her at just over 900 the day she came here, so I will attribute the difference to the inaccuracy of the weight tape itself. But, since that's what I have to use, I will tape her once a week on Saturdays. Later on this afternoon I noticed she was walking freely, and showing her signature circling head toss-a sure sign she is feeling better.

Also today I noticed several loose stools. Because of this, I will back off the oil just a little bit, and cut back the alfalfa hay by one pound a feeding and then try one or the other to see how she handles the increase. . She is really digging into the grass hay with relish, which is wonderful.

Naturally this is not going to happen overnight, but I am anxious to see or feel any gain. Since the weather turned off colder with snow all day, I think this may set that back a few days. But I am optomistic I will see/feel appreciable gain in about ten days.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The recovery horse in better days

Here's a picture of the mare, taken last summer. I am thinking this was taken around June, and since that time, she had packed on some additional weight-she was right where I like them coming into the winter months. About the weight of the pretty red mare pictured with her, as it happens.

(Yes, the date is incorrect in the photo-it *was* last summer, during the time that both mares were being ridden and trained by a great local guy)
As of today, I have worked her up to 12 pounds of superior quality alfalfa hay a day, plus unlimited imported grass. She is only eating about 6 pounds a day of the grass at this point, which is much less than I would like to see her consume daily. Her warm mashes consist of 2 pounds Senior, 2/3 cup oil, FastTrack, half pound of Nutrena, 1 cup beet pulp, plus BOSS, flax and v/m sup. Right now these are just twice a day, and as soon as I think she can handle it, I will be adding a third mash as well. She is still eating slowly, but shows anticipation for the meals. I will be working up to two cups of oil a day, and 6 pounds of senior, along with about two pounds of Nutrena roughly. If that doesn't seem to kick start her, I will add alfie cubes to the mash as well-even though she is eating the alfie hay pretty well. Eventually I hope to wean her off the senior and replace that with the Nutrena and other goodies, to cut down on the sugars in that ration. She does much better on a lower carb, higher fat approach as I learned from her previous stay with me. I forgot to weight tape her, me bad-will do that tonight.
Also hoping to find someone to come give her a snack during the daytime after my hub leaves for work next week-any takers?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The consequences of faith

Let this be a caution to everyone who boards horses up here. The photo at left was taken yesterday at our local AC, just before the horse was delivered to my place for recovery.

That, dear visitors, is a condition score 1.5

This is the horse that left last September a plump condition score 5.5 to 6. See what happened over six months?

She's actually a little worse than the picture shows-pictures do tend to add false weight. She has been started on a detailed recovery program, with everything weighed down to the ounce and pound. She will be fed four times a day to start, and have clean, nutritious grass hay 24/7. She is a bit lethargic (to be expected) but settled right into her old digs, calm as could be. Testing proves that there is no physical reason for the horse to be in this condition. Period.

This is what happens when you have faith alone, that the horse is in a good place. That the caretaker knows what they are doing. When you believe what they tell you about standards of care, about their management, their feeding regimen.

To anyone thinking of moving their horse(s), for whatever reason-I can only suggest that you ask around to other horse owners, or ask your vet, before just taking a casual friends' word for it that the place where you are leaving your pride and joy, is safe, experienced, and knows what they are doing. Find out if they have a business license. You should have a good boarding contract that spells out (in detail if necessary) the diet and the responsibilities of the operation.

I am sickened over what has happened to this horse. I am even more upset about the woman who runs this "boading place" since she has had numerous loose horses, one has died on the property this winter, and has been formally charged with animal cruelty over this horse. I know her name, but not her face-and that's probably a good thing because I would surely loose it and get myself into all sorts of trouble if I met her in person!

Letting the chips fall where they may..........

Leta Belardi, I hope you rot for what what you have done to the innocent horses in your "care"