And the funky, once-a-week bridle? After a day or two of looking at it, I couldn't stand it. It too got a thorough cleaning and conditioning.
After recommissioning the crap bridle, I realized that my tack was looking pretty grungy. Speedy's easy on his stuff, but as I've written at least 4 bazillion times, Izzy is not. He's gross.
Last weekend, I dismantled Izzy's day to day bridle and dropped the bit into a bucket of water to soak. I scrubbed the crud off each piece of his bridle, and then wiped it dry. I set it aside and then gave Speedy's bridle an equally thorough cleaning.
Once both bridles were clean and dry, I gave each one a quick massage with some Higher Standards Leather Balm and then reattached my bits and reins. I hung both bridles neatly and took a moment to admire the look and feel of a clean bridle. Then I saddled up the big brown sweat machine and got the bridle dirty again.
And the funky, once-a-week bridle? After a day or two of looking at it, I couldn't stand it. It too got a thorough cleaning and conditioning.
But first, an update on the Cottonwood Fire ... Gray Stallion was not the only survivor! Since yesterday, I have discovered that one horse is being treated for burns by a friend. She is covering the vet bills and treating the mare. I've also heard that Dr. Pipkin, from a different practice, is treating at least two others for burns and smoke inhalation. Other horses were led away from the scene, but I don't know how many, nor whether they were burned or injured. We do know that nearly two dozen were killed. It's shaping up to be a tough October here in sunny California ...
This past Thursday, I hauled Speedy down to Bakersfield Vet Hospital for a progress check on his coronary band injury. I should mention that getting Speedy to the vet on a weekday requires a very early start to the day.
I work fairly close to the vet hospital, but Speedy and I both live about 30 minutes to the east. The only way to get him to the vet before they close is to drop him off on my way to work. To do this, I have to drive to the barn, and switch vehicles (and my work keys, ID badge, barn bag, etc.). Then I have to round Speedy up from his turn out and load him in the pitch black.
We then make the half hour journey to the vet hospital where I unload him and find his day stall. The gate is locked, but the staff gives me the gate code. Once he's tucked in, I race back out to my truck and grab him some alfalfa for the day's wait.
I then navigate my truck and trailer through city traffic and park alongside the school where I work. The kids think it is quite funny to see a horse trailer parked next to the bike racks. After the last bell rings, I jump back in the truck and retrace my steps to the vet hospital for a late afternoon appointment.
I've done this trip three times this school year; once with Izzy and now twice with Speedy. I am amazed each time at how much my horses must trust me to so willingly load up in the dark only to be deposited in a somewhat unfamiliar place. I love them for trusting me.
Once I was back at BVH, I brought Speedy into the examining bay and pulled his bandages. Both Dr. Tolley and Dr. Gonzalez were quite pleased with my bandaging skills. I laughed and explained that I have been forced to become an expert. Once they saw how well the initial wound had healed, they were even more pleased.
Thankfully, Dr. Tolley agreed that we were past the bandaging phase and had arrived at the watch the hoof grow stage. There are a few things I need to keep an eye open for though as we wait. As the new hoof grows into the gap, it might grow at a faster rate than the hoof surrounding it which might force the hoof below the gouge to run out of room. This would create a bulge.
One way to relieve the pressure is to cut a piece out of the bottom of the hoof so that everything above it can settle downward. My farrier will be out in a few weeks so that is definitely something he will need to look at. It is also possible that Speedy will simply wear away or break off any hoof that protrudes below the bottom edge of the hoof wall.
Ultimately, we're waiting for about 2 centimeters of new hoof growth so that the gouged part of the hoof starts to come straight down. Dr. Tolley drew a a sketch to illustrate what it should look like over the next month or so. Once it reaches this stage, we'll decided whether it needs to be patched or doctored in any way.
I am hugely optimistic that we'll be back to work far quicker than I first worried. Right now, the wound is hard and clean and the coronary band is quickly leveling off. Just a few days ago, it still looked like it was shoved upward.
I can't wait to see what my farrier thinks.
By now, everyone across the country has heard about the devastation that last week's fires have caused here in California. The destruction to our cities, neighborhoods, farms, and vineyards is nearly unfathomable. While I feel a great deal of compassion for the folks outside of my city, it's easier for me to cope when I turn my attention to those in my own community.
Last week, I shared a post about the Jackson Stable Fire in Oildale. As of this weekend, that family has received an outpouring of public support for which they are extremely grateful. Unfortunately, the families affected by the Cottonwood fire haven't received as much support from the community.
Several of the affected families desperately need help. Their horses were being temporarily housed at the fairgrounds, but they have no hay, buckets, or other essentials. I heard that one man was still wearing the clothes that he had on during the fire. I don't know if there is an organized support system in place yet, but I suspect that a quick call (661-833-4900) to the Kern County Fairgrounds might yield some answers.
On Thursday, when I took Speedy to the vet to have his coronary band injury looked at (more about that tomorrow), I met the only horse (of more than twenty) who survived the Cottonwood Fire. He's a handsome gray stallion with a very friendly eye. Dr. Tolley was kind enough to share the story of what happened to him.
During the fire, which was fueled by high winds, the metal shade roof in the stallion's pen was knocked to the ground. Somehow, it sheltered him from the blaze that ultimately killed more than 20 other horses.
Even with something to block the flames, the stallion's muzzle was burned, but the rest of his body was kept safe. The barrier couldn't protect him against the smoke though. His lungs have severe damage from smoke inhalation, and as of Thursday afternoon, he was showing the early signs of pneumonia.
The family who owns this horse lost several others in the fire, including a mare in foal. I don't know what their financial situation is, but I know it's not solid enough to easily pay the quickly mounting vet bill. Given what I know of them, this bill is going to be very difficult for them to pay.
After I paid Speedy's bill, I slid my card back across the counter and asked if I might make a payment toward the stallion's expenses. The staff at BVH thanked me and made it clear that the stallion's owners would be grateful. Several others had already phoned in contributions earlier in the day.
As of Thursday, the total bill was hovering around $2,000, but given the developing pneumonia, it will likely get higher. If you feel like you'd like to help someone affected by California's recent wildfires, I think this family would really appreciate it.
Bakersfield Vet Hospital can be reached at 661-832-1150. Simply tell them you'd like to contribute to the bill of the stallion from the fire. They'll know which horse you mean.
There isn't a horse owner out there who doesn't appreciate a barn stacked to the rafters with freshly delivered hay. I don't have to buy hay anymore, but I still love the sight of a two story tower of the green stuff. Our last delivery of the year came last week.
There are currently nine horses at the ranch, including my two, but there are usually eleven. There is a TB mare who is out for training, but she should be back before winter. Another one belongs to the neighbor, so he's not a regular resident, but he does stay with us when the neighbor travels out of state.
As such, we have enough horses to warrant buying hay in bulk, but not so many that we have to do it all year long. This load of alfalfa will be the last until summer. We already had enough grass hay to last through the winter.
The latest load of alfalfa is some of the prettiest that I've ever seen. It is super fine with nary a coarse piece. In an attempt to plump Speedy up before winter, the ranch owner has already opened the new stuff to see if she can tempt Speedy into eating every morsel. He tends to turn his nose up at the stemmier pieces.
When the hay was delivered by our local procurer of baled green stuff, he shared that this particular hay came from the very same load that he just sold to the US Olympic team. We're trying to get our hands on the hay analysis that was required by the Olympic team. Ranch owner and I are both curious to see what it shows.
Thanks to the ranch owner, I know my boys are getting the absolute best hay that can be found this side of the Rockies. Now all that's left to do is ride them!
When I first saw Speedy's injury cleared of the crust and gunk, I was certain he'd be out for six months. Now, I am thinking he might get back to work a whole lot sooner.
Each time I changed the bandage over the past two weeks, the wound looked quieter. Right now, it has lost all of the dramatic swelling and no raw-looking tissue is left. The dark spot you see is not a scab; it's new hoof, and best of all, it's hardening. Speedy has continued to be sound, and other than being annoyed at not having a job to do, he's quite comfortable.
We're going to the vet for a check up today. I am hoping Dr. Tolley says I can quit wrapping it as everything is firm with no soft tissue showing. No biggie if not. It's an easy wrap job, and from experience, I know that if I stay the course, this will heal up before I know it.
While I am there, I want to talk about helping one of the families who was affected by Monday's dramatic fires. I've heard that 23 horses died in the Cottonwood fire, and only one survived. That one is owned by Martha and Manuel Carillo. The horse was treated by Dr. Gonzalez, but the owners are not in a financial position to pay the bill. I am hoping BVH will let me make a payment toward their bill.
While my own vet bills have piled up this year, I have been blessed with the means to pay them. It wouldn't hurt to help someone else do the same. If you're local and want to help, BVH can be reached at 661-203-6365.
On Sunday and Monday, high winds swept across California, igniting wildfires in several large communities including Santa Rosa (north of San Fransisco) and Anaheim Hills (Los Angeles). Two large fires also struck Bakersfield, both within an hour of each other.
The first began in the south of town, burning several homes, but more tragically, approximately 20 horses were also killed. The second fire occurred along the river in Oildale. At least 5 horses were killed in that blaze. Thanks to the quick thinking of several firefighters, many horses were let loose, ultimately saving their lives.
The fire in Oildale decimated an entire boarding facility, including the owners' home. A call has gone out to help this family get back on its feet. If you would like to help, here is how you can do that.
For the victims of the Jackson Fire
Several friends have asked if my own equine family is safe, so I wanted to assure you that yes, we are fine. This is a terrible tragedy, and every horse owner in town has hugged their own ponies, thankful that they are safe. A barn fire is an owner's worst nightmare.
I hate to even say this as the universe will no doubt see it as a challenge, but man, oh man has big brown horse been kicking some butt! And I mean that in a good way.
Since our last lesson a few weeks ago, he has really been trying hard. Actually, while that's certainly true, it would be better to say that I've been trying hard. I've been focusing on eliminating the "perch" from my seat and using bigger half halts with quicker releases. I couldn't be happier with the big guy.
He's been so good that I've been pulling out movements from First Level to challenge him. He's got a pretty mean leg yield when I remember to control the left shoulder when heading left and bump over the haunches when heading right.
He was so rideable this weekend that I did the single loop at the canter and then played around with a canter exercise that Chemaine Hurtado (owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables) showed me years ago for Speedy. It's a simple canter exercise where you canter off the rail and then back several times down the long side. Not going to lie; Izzy owned that exercise.
Our trot work is our weakest area as he still wants to travel with a retracted neck, but he's slowly getting steadier in the bridle. He does seem to enjoy the more collected movements more than he does the long and low stuff. He's kind of the opposite of Speedy.
Between the two of them, I've got the total package!
Like all of you, I have ten of everything. How many pads and pairs of reins does one girl need? A lot, apparently. For years, and I mean that literally, I hunted for a bridle that not only fit Speedy well, but also looked and felt nice. As a result, I have a large pile of rejected bridles, none of which look or feel like anything special.
A few weeks ago, I was complaining about what an annoyance it is to switch out Izzy's bit each week. I finally decided to make the job somewhat easier by at least attaching some reins to the second bit so that I don't have to unhook everything. Tracy, from Fly On Over, joked that she hates switching bits so much that she just buys a new bridle instead.
Palm to face. Why didn't I think of that? No, really, I am not being sarcastic. Why did I not think of using a second bridle? As mentioned, I have a whole pile of discarded bridles from which to choose. So I did.
There is nothing I like about this bridle. The noseband is hung over the crown piece by sliding it through keepers which is the most inconvenient system of all time. Give me a monocrown any day of the week. It has a crank noseband which is okay on a larger horse, but it overwhelmed Speedy's lovely face. The leather is also cheap and crappy. Here's what it looked like on Speedy. I am sure he's horribly embarrassed by this photo. I know I am!
It actually fit Sydney (the OTTB gelding I had before Izzy) pretty well even though I still hated it.
On Izzy, the throat latch is too small; I have it on the last hole at the bottom. The browband is also a bit snug, but it's not pinching his ears. I am missing a keeper on the crank of the noseband so the leather flaps around a bit. Basically, this bridle is a mess. It doesn't fit Izzy very well, but it will do for a once a week bridle.
At least the cheek pieces are long enough. That's about the only part of this bridle that actually fits him. Well, that and the crank. For now, it's a much easier way to use the legal bit. In fact, I rode him in the "new" bridle and legal bit on Saturday. He's not relaxing and swinging his back like I'd like, but he has made huge progress over the past few weeks.
Bit by bit, right?!
Late last winter, I developed a hankering for a pair of river boots. They didn't actually have to be Dubarry, although I wouldn't have said no to them either. The Dublins would have been fine. Since it was late in the season, and I knew I wouldn't get much wear out of them during our scorching summer, I decided to wait until fall before I bought them.
Brace yourself for a litany of First World Problems.
I realized at the beginning of the summer that I desperately needed some new clothes. My horses' wardrobes never lack for anything which means my stuff gets threadbare and even a bit dated before I'll buy new clothes. I didn't get much, but I spent over $300.
Not that I didn't enjoy myself, but my husband and I took a short vacation to beautiful San Diego. Even then I knew my wallet was leaking money. I knew my husband really needed a break, so I spent what needed to be spent.
Not long after, something splashed on my (nearly new) car's hood that ate through the paint. Given that I keep my vehicles until the wheels fall off, I couldn't live the next 10 years with no paint. If it had been a small spot, I would have sucked it up, but it was a big spot, more than several in fact. That was how I said goodbye to another $500.
Just about the time I thought my bills were paid, Izzy complained about sore hocks and other body soreness. How could I buy a new pair of boots when I could pay for hock injections instead? And of course, the sarcoid also needed to be removed. That vet bill was considerably larger than fixing my car's paint.
Over the summer, I had a never ending series of headaches. I finally decided that it might have something to do with the hours upon hours that I was spending reading. I called the optometrist. Even with good vision insurance, I walked out of the office with new glasses and a $250 bill.
Once Speedy clued in that money was being tossed around, he decided that he wanted in on it and sliced up his coronary band to get it. Not only did he earn a visit to see Dr. Tolley, he also got bandaging material and a guaranteed second vet visit next week. He's quite proud that he outdid his younger, bigger brother.
Big sigh. That is why there is not a pair of river boots waiting excitedly in my closet for our first frosty morning. Instead, there are some cute discounted flip flops and some very old boots that I'll continue wearing. If you happen to run across $219, I think it fell out of my wallet sometime this summer.
In case Santa is reading this, Riding Warehouse carries these boots (size 8), and if he uses the code 17A12, he can save 20%. First World Problems suck, but Santa is awesome!
I am not really a fan or a believer in the efficacy of supplements. For the most part, I subscribe to the notion that they simply create very expensive poop. With that said, my monthly supplement bill has gotten pretty high.
I do have an explanation though. According to my vet, the west coast's hay is usually lacking in a few key vitamins and minerals, namely Vitamin E and Selenium. He thinks most of California's horses should be on at least a vitamin and mineral supplement.
After a lot of research and examination of my budget, both boys are on Platinum Performance. The main reason that I chose this particular vitamin and mineral supplement is that it covers every base. Any time someone says, "Maybe your horse is deficient in X," I can rule it out as a cause. Platinum Performance has every possible amino acid, trace and macro mineral, vitamin, or "chondroprotective" substance you can feed a horse.
Last winter, despite being fed copious amounts of good quality alfalfa, beet pulp, and rice bran, Speedy got pretty ribby by late winter. In fact, it took all summer for him to finally add some weight back to his frame, and even then he was still less than a 5 on the body condition scale.
After even more research and examination of my budget, I recently opted to put him on Platinum Performance's Healthy Weight. There were two main reasons I chose Healthy Weight over other brands like Cool Calories or Fat Cat. The first reason is that Healthy Weight is made from flax oil which has a better Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio than most of the other fat supplements out there. The fatty acids are the "good fats" that cells need to function, but Omega-6s are thought to be pro-inflammatory.
The second reason that I chose Healthy Weight was its price. Believe it or not, it's fairly comparable to the cost of most other fat supplements. In fact, at $0.66 a day, it's a lot less expensive than feeding rice bran, at least at the quantities that I was feeding rice bran.
Enter Speedy's third supplement, Platinum Hoof Support. This is a short term addition to his supplements list. Once his hoof has regrown, he'll have no need for additional "hoof support." I chose Platinum Hoof Support for the simple reason that it might help and certainly won't hurt.
Just like all of Platinum's other formulas, Hoof Support goes above and beyond the typical hoof formula. This version contains several amino acids responsible for hoof growth, which Speedy desperately needs right now. It also has Zinc Gluconate which is involved in the hardening of the hooves.
Additionally, Hoof Support contains Copper Gluconate which is shown to help connect hoof cells. For good measure, Hoof Support also has Manganese and Biotin which help strengthen the hoof wall and other structures.
With these three supplements given daily, Speedy's poop is now costing in excess of $3.42 a day. Of course, that dollar amount doesn't include the extra feed he gets. He also eats LMF Senior twice a day (3 pounds in the morning and a pound and a half at night) and Beet Pulp (a pound and a half at night).
My board bill includes all of the alfalfa that he'll eat. While I haven't weighed his hay in a long time, we feed based on how much hay he has left from the meal before. On the rare afternoon that I show up and he has actually eaten all of his hay, I toss him a bit of grass hay to tide him over until dinner.
As I was scooping and mixing last night, I had to laugh at myself. For someone who doesn't think supplements really do anything, my feed routine sure has gotten complicated!