Not for long, of course, but the few autumnal days we get sure are pretty. We just finished a very hot, six-month long summer. After 179 days of dry weather, heavy clouds laden with rain descended on our state. The air sparkled, free of dust and smoke. Overnight, the leaves changed to fiery reds and golden oranges and yellows.
I had a very long last week that limited my barn visits to the predawn and early evenings. The only time I saw the sun's light was while at work.
Afternoon rain was predicted on Saturday, so even though I was sluggish and unmotivated, I headed out to the barn in the early morning. My effort was rewarded with dazzling sunshine gleaming through the clean air and blue skies.
Even though it was barely 50 degrees, I hosed the mud from Speedy's legs and hooves. He stood quietly, basking in the warmth of the California sun. Even in fall, its rays are warm.
I think both Speedy and Izzy are enjoying the cooler, wet weather. Speedy's been standing in the rain while Izzy's been hanging out beneath the trees in the shade. My vet joked recently that a horse's best weather day is 47 degrees. My horses seem to agree with him.
More rain is predicted this week. The skies will once again be cloudy and dull, but we won't complain. We need every drop of rain we can get since summer is right around the corner.
If you've been reading about Izzy for any length of time, you might remember that he loves his toys, there was the big ball - which didn't last very long, and the barrel - which he still has. Those things provide(d) some entertainment, but his true love is digging.
There doesn't seem to be a reason for the digging other than boredom. He lives on nearly a quarter of an acre with various toys scattered around, and he gets ridden 4 - 6 days a week. That's about all of the entertainment that I can provide. The digging was a problem at the last place we boarded, but at the ranch, it's no big deal.
Reggie works at the ranch and takes care of things that need fixing. Unfortunately, Izzy is constantly finding things to break which then need fixing. I hope Reggie sees it as job security.
One time, Izzy dug so far down that he uncovered a water line. I am sure Reggie was thrilled by that one because it was instantly decided that the water line had to be relocated for Izzy's safety. All eyes immediately turned to Reggie as he's the fixer of all things. I made myself scarce that day as I didn't want anyone remembering that it was my incorrigible horse causing all of the trouble.
While I rode, Reggie brought in the tractor and filled in the holes. Afterwards, he dragged things smooth again, hiding where the holes had been. Before he started working, we had joked about how long it would take Izzy to remember where his holes should be.
Our running joke is that Izzy's either looking for a way to escape or simply hunting buried treasure. Reggie and I have agreed to split whatever he uncovers. If Izzy doesn't find something fast, I'm going to have to get Reggie a case of beer to thank him for all of his hard work!
A friend of mine, a southern California dressage rider and eventer, works for the Riverside County Probation Department. Not only is she an excellent rider, but she is a badass at work. She also happens to be one of my favorite people.
I mean really ... how many of us carry a gun, deal with dirt bags, and then spend our free time doing this? Like I said, she's my favorite Badass.
Over the weekend, her best friend shared the Riverside County Probation Department's answer to the #lipsync challenge.
The Riverside County Probation Department is proud to release our Lip Sync Challenge video! Staff had a great time and raised over $2,000 in donations to benefit local fire victims through the United Way of the Inland Valleys Holy Fire Fund in the process. The video features Wild Wild West by Will Smith. Special thanks to The Norco Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team Equestrian Drill Team, Water Wheel Saloon, March Field Air Museum and Mt. Rubidoux. You can still donate to the fund by clicking the donation card int he video. Learn more at https://support.google.com/youtube/?p...
The video is great, but what I love the most is that my friend is in the video riding her best friend's horse, Penny (with the windmills in back). But wait, there's more to this story. My friend is also married to a Marine who is actively serving. This weekend they attended a ball celebrating the 243rd birthday of the Marine Corp. Dog Nitro, a retired canine Marine, went in full dress.
My friend writes:
These two marines, Danny and Nitro, had a great time celebrating the 243rd Marine Corps Birthday Ball. Nitro had many fans and many people wanting to take his picture and pet him. He was most happy hanging out with his dad and visiting with the other marines. It was apparent the Marines were in good spirits with the anticipation of their upcoming deployment, as the “hoorahs” were shouted out about every 5 seconds.
While we honor our veterans today, I think we should also keep in mind those who serve to protect us here at home. Families like my friend's, who serve both abroad and here at home, deserve a special thank you.
It is so fantastic to see a woman out there serving our community and doing it in style. I am honored to call her my friend.
You rock, girlfriend!
Well, not yet anyway, although I am not feeling so perky this morning - darn bug! If I had to pick who had to feel crummy, me or the boys, I'd pick me every time. It's a lot cheaper and easier when something's wrong with me than with them. Am I right?
So even though I wasn't feeling great, I headed out to the barn yesterday afternoon to see how bad things were. The day before, Izzy's leg had poofed up to twice its size with no apparent cause, and Speedy was still a bit off on the right front. Let me tell you, two broken horses is enough to depress even the Pope.
While Izzy's leg was still poofy, it was much improved over the day before. One of my cure-alls is a long walk. It's surprising how many ailments can be fixed with a stroll. Even though Izzy lives on a quarter acre, I thought a tour around the property might do some good.
Speedy was already loose, free grazing, so I knew he would follow along. Unfortunately, he made things quite exciting as he would zoom up to us, causing Izzy to think monsters were chasing us. Speedy was having fun though, and that is also the purpose of a walk.
We circled around the ranch with Speedy flipping his tail over his back and prancing by. With all of that adrenaline coursing through his veins, he looked quite sound. And actually, when we got back to their pens, I trotted him out on the grass, and he looked perfectly sound. It was only on the hard packed road that I could see a bit of unevenness in his stride. He'll be good to go in another day or so.
By the time we finished, Izzy's leg was nearly as tight and clean as always. Whatever caused it to poof up has to be minor, and it's nothing I feel I need to worry about. Speedy looked quite good, so I was able to head home looking the worst of the three of us.
Now, if I can just kick this cold quickly, everything will be right in my little corner of the world, especially since it's Friday of a three day weekend.
Izzy's water intake has definitely fallen over the past week. I had been adding a lot of water to his trough each afternoon, but the past few days, the water level hasn't dropped much. I am not worried about it, but I like to know what's normal.
Since Izzy has really mellowed over the past year, he can now be trusted to stand tied at the trailer alone. The trailer has never moved in all the time I've been at the ranch, so it's a convenient place to tack up. As a bonus, it's pretty weathered, so I don't worry about him banging into it or scratching the paint.
Now that he isn't anxiously pawing or flinging himself about, I can hang a filled hay net as well as leave a rubber feed pan. I've also started leaving a freshly filled two gallon bucket of water for when I am done riding.
After he eats his LMF Senior, he always drinks down the bucket of water and waits for me to bring him more. This was something I taught my endurance horses: fresh feed and water were always within reach. Speedy simply expects there to be hay and water along with treats when he's tied up anywhere. I make sure to be consistent about it because they then start to eat and drink out of habit.
It's sort of a Pavlovian thing. Maybe you can lead a horse to water and teach him to drink?
Or, I was last week. What I forgot to mention was how I scored an awesome feed scale completely free.
Teachers are notorious for saving every box, container, or random thing that might prove useful for a lesson someday in the far future. I admit that I am especially guilty of this as I teach a lot of hands on science that requires ... stuff. My classroom drawers are filled with things like Q-Tips, popcorn, and even chopsticks - don't judge. Someday those chopsticks will be just what I need.
Now and then, one of my colleagues will take an honest look at what is in her maybe someday cupboard. She will realize that someday is really never. The worthless items will then get deposited in the teachers' lounge for some other "resourceful" teacher to carry back to her own classroom. With a frequency that I am loathe to admit, I am more than occasionally that crazy somebody.
What the original owner did not realize was that the scale has a uniquely awesome purpose to the right somebody - me, and that that purpose has nothing to do with the classroom. Too late now, my dear colleague. No take backs! The second I saw this beauty sitting on the table, I scooped it up knowing that it was headed straight to the barn. Classroom be damned!
And that is how I came be to the proud owner of this awesome feed scale!
I've been watching Izzy's coat change and darken for the past several weeks. His winter coat is easy to spot as it comes in nearly black while his summer coat is an unattractive faux buckskin color.
Speedy's winter coat is very hard to see because it's actually whiter than his silvery summer coat. It's so white that the majority of his fleabites (the reddish brown freckles that many grey Arabs sport) will disappear until next spring.
I am sure it didn't actually happen over-night even though it feels as though it did, but Speedy's winter coat made an appearance this weekend. As soon as I rubbed the jelly scrubber over his coat, his summer hair simply let loose. Where he had had a smooth thin coat last weekend, this weekend he started to show signs of his polar bear winter look.
While I'll miss the ease of caring for their summer coats, I won't miss the heat of summer. I am ready for some cooler afternoons. What's it like where you live?
Every few months I like to reevaluate what my boys are eating. I am sure you do the same thing, so chime in with your feed protocol.
With property values so high and water so limited here in California, there aren't many facilities where horses get to live on grass. If they're lucky enough to get grass, it's usually pretty short, and not plentiful enough to live on. The ranch owners where my boys live have several large lawn areas in front of the house reserved for occasional grazing. After riding, I nearly always let one of them loose to graze for 20 - 30 minutes a day.
The ranch owner buys excellent quality hay which is good since that's mostly what my boys eat. This year's alfalfa is particularly nice with fine stems and lots of green leaves. The grass hay is so good that Speedy prefers it to the alfalfa. Since it's not calorie dense enough, he only gets it while I am tacking up.
Speedy gets up to three weighty flakes of alfalfa a day, depending on how much he eats. If he hasn't cleaned up most of the hay from the previous feeding, he only gets one flake. He likes to eat, but when he's had enough, he walks away.
Izzy gets up to three large flakes of grass hay and two very thin alfalfa flakes a day. Right now, he's in a hoover it all up stage. After a while, he'll slow down on the grass hay, but he'll always finish the alfalfa. When he slows down on the grass hay, the ranch owner makes the flakes a bit smaller. He's such a chunk right now that if she gave him any more he might pop, but I like him nice and round.
Speedy's a hard one to feed. He could live on just hay, but he simply won't eat enough of it to get a rosy bloom. I can't get his corners rounded on just hay. If I give him too much supplemental feed, he feels satiated and quits eating the hay. I've landed on a good balance this year with all the alfalfa he'll eat and five pounds of LMF senior split into two feedings.
To add even more calories to his diet, I also feed a half cup of Platinum's Healthy Weight flaxseed oil. Price-wise it's cheaper than the LMF. I go through three bags a month of that (at $20 a bag) while the flaxseed oil lasts nearly two months (for around $62). The oil is very convenient to feed, and Speedy likes it enough to eat every drop.
Izzy is much easier to feed. Combined with the hay, he gets about three quarters of a pound of shredded beet pulp with an added pound of LMF senior. The LMF is really just to treat him after a ride. If he doesn't get ridden, he gets about half a pound of the LMF.
I used to scoff at supplements. And even today, I still question their efficacy. If money were really tight, the first thing I'd get rid of would be the supplements. But since my budget allows for them, I give them with fingers crossed that they're actually doing something helpful.
Both boys get two scoops daily of Platinum Performance Equine, the wellness and performance formula. Since both of my boys were healthy and fit before I started them on Platinum Performance, I never saw a sudden bloom develop. Of the two horses, Speedy already had a silky coat and lovely feet before I started the Platinum Performance supplement, so it's hard to say whether it has done anything other than make up for any nutritional deficiencies.
Since Izzy's feet need some help, I am also feeding Platinum Hoof Support once a day. None of Platinum's products are cheap, but I feel better knowing that the formulas were created by a veterinarian and that there is research to support the product claims. If anything, I know the products aren't hurting my horses.
I've mentioned this about 10,000 times already, but Speedy loves hard candies. He gets two of them after every ride and anytime I think he's earned it. There are not enough of those times in his opinion. I've also started tossing two peppermints in his morning bucket which the ranch owner feeds. He hadn't really warmed up to her, so I suggested she give him some candies every morning. I haven't heard whether it's working or not.
Izzy like the LMF and grass, so those are his treats. He's not as big on the candies, and cookies are only meh. LMF works for me since I already keep several bags on hand.
I know this sounds like a complicated feeding regimen, but it takes me less than five minutes to fill up my buckets. It's the first thing I do when I get to the barn. I feed as the last thing I do, so my buckets are always rinsed and waiting for me the next day.
So, what's in your horse's bucket?
Poor Izzy. He is having a devil of a time with the flies. Late summer is the absolute worst time for flies here in Bakersfield. Most of us joke that the flies are getting in their last hurrah before the cooler weather sets in. They come out in force, and they're particularly sticky and bothersome. They go for your eyes and ears and land on places from which you can't shoo them.
Summer lasts a long time here in the Central Valley, and so does fly season. It won't get cooler for a while yet. And when fall finally does arrive, it will last approximately three days, and then winter sneaks in. The flies will be gone though.
The ranch owner uses Fly Predators, and I apply my fly spray liberally, but the flies still torment poor Izzy. When I showed up the other day, he was perched over his barrel gently rubbing the flies away from his belly. At the same time, he was nodding his head up and down trying to dislodge the flies that had made his noggin their home.
I grabbed my fly spray and climbed through the fence. I sprayed every inch of his body and let him rub his face on my shoulder until he was satisfied. He went back to his barrel, but this time it was to play. He grabbed it a few times and rocked it off the ground. He likes the thunk sound it makes as it stands back up.
And then he was over it. Once the flies had left him alone, he ditched his barrel in favor of standing by the fence, waiting for the stallion to come over and chat.
I know both of us will be glad when summer is over.
On the day before we left for Canada (blog post about that coming soon), the ranch owners did another application of their dust control product, ArenaKleen (by Dirt Glue). I blogged about this process before (and here).
Pretty much everything you'd want to know about the product is on the label above. If you read the label, you'll see that it's an organic blended severely hydrotreated dust suppressant. Yeah ... doesn't help me out much either, but who cares since the stuff really and truly works.
For such a hi-tech product, the application is super simple. You just spray it on with a garden hose. Getting it out of the container is the hardest part. The ranch owners used a portable, high powered water pump.
When the ranch owners treated the arena nearly two years ago, they applied four containers. Since it has held up so well, they only needed to apply two containers this time. With two hoses dispensing, both containers were emptied in under two hours.
When they were finished, the footing looked wet, but it was rideable that same day. Even when dragged, the footing will continue to be darker than the dirt outside of the arena. Before this new application of ArenaKleen, there was no dust in the air when I rode, but some low-hanging dust was beginning to form with each footfall. No more. I rode yesterday and there were absolutely zero dust poofs.
Since the arena didn't need all of the second container, they sprayed the round pen as well. I don't use it very often, but since Izzy hadn't been ridden in two weeks, I started him in there yesterday so he could blow off some steam. That footing was also dust free. Not just mostly, but completely dust free.
Since DirtGlue's website doesn't list the price per container, you know it's expensive. But really, what equine related product isn't? This is probably not a feasible dust control solution for most backyard horse owners, but if you run a larger facility, the price of ArenaKleen might be cheaper than your water bill - especially if you live in California where water is in short supply.
After years of dragging sprinklers around to ineffectively water my riding space, it is so nice to just hop on without having to water or deal with dust. My ponies better mind their manners because I am not getting kicked out of this place! I'll get new ponies if it comes down to it. Kidding. Not really.
Since it only rains about 6 times a year here, the wait for rain strategy doesn't work for us. What do you all do for dust control?