Wednesday, April 28, 2010

When Life Gives You Rubbish

Today is trash collection day and it is very windy.

Our neighbors didn't consider the wind when they set cardboard boxes out with their trash this morning; empty boxes except for some packing paper inside.

The boxes, of course, blew onto our property and I retrieved several long strips of packing paper from our horse pasture.

The neighbors have driven by several times and surely they have seen how their boxes have gone astray, but they've done nothing to retrieve them.

Apparently they believe that once their garbage has blown off their property, it becomes the refuse of another.

I could be annoyed at my neighbors...or I could turn their trash into something useful.

Perhaps I could use it to frighten desensitize my horses.

I tied several of the long strips of packing paper around the corral panels.

They crackled and flapped in the wind like spooky hellions (mischievous snickering ensues).

When life gives you rubbish, turn it into a training tool.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Misty's Monday Muse: Scared!

My name is Misty and I'm scared of my rolling box.

Recently, I've been expressing a fear of my trailer. I've never been very comfortable in it, but I'm an amiable girl and try to do what is asked of me. But in the last couple of weeks, I've become very disagreeable and my naughty behavior has escalated on a daily basis.

MyLady says it is her fault and she feels very badly. Despite the dilemma of her cockeyed Work-Life-Horse Balance, she has been trying very hard to work consistently with Marley & Me and has been hauling us to places that have round pens and arenas to work in. I've had to travel in my rolling box a lot lately and my anxiety is growing.

I've become very fussy about getting in my box; and last week I started running away from MyLady as soon as I see her with a halter in her hand. I just want to be left alone!

I've never really had the chance to make friends with my trailer. It hasn't been mean to me, but when I step into it, the doors shut, it gets dark, the world disappears, and I feel very uneasy. I'm always so glad when the world reappears and I can get out of that box.

On Saturday, I had a lesson to properly introduce me to my trailer. I had to trot a lot until I figured out that the trailer was a place where I could rest. I was given lots of chances to snoop around in the box and play with it, but was allowed to leave when I felt uncomfortable. TrainerLady said I needed to use my natural curiosity, but fear and curiosity cannot co-exist in my equine mind, so I was allowed to approach and retreat as needed. It was a long lesson. After 3 hours, I was finally comfortable enough to walk all the way into my box and relax in there and have a snack.

Then yesterday I found the rolling box just sitting at the top of my dry lot with its big, gaping mouth wide open. Inside was my lunch. That was really weird.

I stayed away, but every now and then I stole a glance. Then I saw MyLady sitting in it, playing with my food tub. I decided to check it out before she ate all my food.

Hey, save some of that for me.

I hung around for a little bit, then I turned and galloped to the other end of my lot. This back-and-forth went on for awhile until I finally got curious (and hungry enough) to start investigating further.

Nibbling outside the box.

Nibbling inside the box.

Getting braver.

Oh oh! What's that I hear?


Gotta run!

The next-door predators scared me with their yapping.

Just look how scary they are!

Wouldn't you run too?

Finally, I calmed down and went back to my box and got most of my body in. That's all I could do yesterday. I suspect I'll be dining in the box again.



What a show-off.

One day at a time,

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Scoop on Poop: Deworming

Deworming ("worming" or "drenching") is the process of dosing a horse with drugs to purge them of parasites. These drugs work by killing or paralyzing parasites so that they may be discharged from the horse's body....and that's the poop!

Horse owners have been battling equine parasites for centuries, beginning with old fashioned remedies that included blood-letting and feeding cigars to horses.

Tobacco was once thought to be a cure-all for man and beast. In 1565 a physician published a pamphlet about tobacco's medicinal powers. From the book Tobacco A Cultural History of How an Exotic Plant Seduced Civilization by Iain Gately, we read that tobacco was considered a treatment for many ailments:

Griefs of the breast...rottenness at the mouth, and for them that are short of effective cure for any illness of any internal organ, for bad breath, especially in children who have eaten too much meat, for kidney stones, from poison arrows, indeed for 'any other manner of wound'...Tobacco...could heal cattle of 'new wounds and rotten', of maggot infections, of foot-and-mouth disease, and of any parasite that had or might trouble them.

The mysterious plant from the New World was thought to be a wonder drug. We know better now. While some people still use tobacco as a backyard horse wormer, it is not recommended and can make a horse gravely ill.

Times have changed and veterinary medicine has advanced, thank goodness. But we must continue to wage war against the worms.

When I was young, tube-worming was the popular treatment for equine parasites. Twice a year the vet would come out and fill a big metal bucket with a chemical solution, insert a tube into my horse's nostril and pump the mixture into his gut. It looked very uncomfortable for the horse, and certainly not something I could do myself.

Then the practice of rotational paste worming took center stage and has been very popular and effective for several decades. Rotational worming allows the horse owner to easily dose their horse bi-monthly (every 2 months) by injecting a drug imbued paste into the horse's mouth, varying the chemical combination to target particular types of worms throughout the year.

Also popular is a daily pelleted wormer combined with occasional paste worming.

I have been a faithful follower of a bi-monthly paste worming rotation....until now.

My bi-monthly worming schedule has been so important to me that I keep the schedule posted on my dresser mirror, next to my earrings. (Not very decorative, but I know you horse lovers will understand).

I dutifully check the calendar to make sure I administer the appropriate paste wormer at the right time of year.

But now we are hearing more about those pesky, clever worms developing a resistance to our arsenal of dewormers. Last year my veterinarian suggested I change tactics. So in December, I used up the last of my paste wormer supply when I gave Misty & Marley their measure of pyrantel pamoate paste.

Last week I locked each horse in their own stall and waited for them to produce some manure. I didn't have to wait long. I strategically plucked several "apples" from different places in their piles, put them in separate plastic baggies marked with their names, and dropped these gems off at the vet clinic so they could do a fecal egg count.

The results...drum roll please...negative! Misty & Marley do not have worms to speak of. In fact, I was told "their manure looks great!" I'll take that as a compliment, thank you.

So what do I do now? Instead of paste worming 6 times a year, my vet has instructed me to paste worm just twice a year. And because Misty & Marley are worm free and it is just the two of them living at home, I don't need to submit another fecal sample for 18-24 months. Our new semi-annual schedule is:

Spring: Equimax (ivermectin/praziquantel), targeting roundworms, tapeworms, lungworms, and bots.

Fall: Quest Plus (moxidectin/praziquantel), targeting large strongyles, small strongyles, encysted cyathostomes, ascarids, pinworms, hairworms, large-mouth stomach worms, bots, and tapeworms.

I must admit...I'm a little uneasy about abandoning my trusty bi-monthly worming rotation. It's a paradigm shift of sorts. I'm taking a chance because I want to do what is best for my horses and thwart resistance in the parasite community. I trust my vet, but I will probably submit a fecal sample in 12 months for my own peace of mind.

Whatever strategy you choose to combat parasites, please consult with your equine veterinarian. Your vet can help formulate a plan based on the latest research, your geographic location, and your horse's living situation.

Interesting reading: Horsetalk's Parasite Series

Monday, April 5, 2010

Misty's Monday Muse: Dining Etiquette

When I first came to live in the land of Once Upon, I had very bad mealtime manners. As my picture shows, I was impatient and would grab at my hay as it was being served through my feed door.

I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I was even more ill mannered than the gluttonous pony!

I've been taking etiquette lessons that teach me how to be a lady at feeding time. I've learned to turn away from my feed door and wait until my hay is served before I start ripping and chomping nibbling daintily upon it.

My manners are much better now, but sometimes I forget and fall back into my former bad ways. When that happens my waitress swiftly pulls my hay back through the feed door and gives me a look. Then I remember my manners and I step away from the feed door until my hay is properly placed in my trough.

Equine dining etiquette isn't just about obeying rules. It is a matter of being kind and considerate of others. After all, I wouldn't want to hurt my waitress by accidentally tearing into her hand with my hungry horsey teeth. Besides, I'm a vegetarian.

Dining with grace & style,

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Spring Thing: Curry Comb

Spring is the time to dust off the curry comb and flex those grooming muscles that have been idle all winter.

Circles, circles, circles.
Feel the burn.

Each springtime grooming session reveals a little more of the beautiful horse hidden underneath all that winter hair.

Marley is really giving it up here.

Happy spring and happy shedding to all our equine friends and their devoted groomers.