Today was a bit of a spa day for Eagle. I gave him a thorough grooming and at one point he almost fell asleep while I was combing his mane. He nickers when he sees me and follows me in his field. His leg wounds were cleaned with my Colloidal Silver and treated with a product from the vet which contains metallic ions. I used my Fungus Spray on his body for the rain rot (Tea Tree & Apple Cider Vinegar) and inspected his feet. The little knats seem to like him especially with the open wounds so tonight I used my Natural Fly spray while he ate and it made the pesky little buggers disappear so he could eat in peace 🙂
Dr. Williams came today and checked him over as well and thought the leg injury was healing nicely and floated his teeth. His bottom teeth are worn down so I will feed him as though he is somewhat dentally challenged. I also wormed him this morning.
Eagle's meals have been chopped forage which is very soft with my Summertime Herbal Blend of Calendula, Cleavers and Peppermint as well as an Anti-inflammatory Herbal Blend I make for his stiffness and a probiotic for digestion and nutrient assimilation. He takes his time when he eats, but always cleans the pan and tells me it is yummy!
Earlier in the day I offered him some of my gorgeous orchard grass hay and he thought it was delicious. He has plenty to eat as his paddock is full of grass. He has found a tree he likes to stand under and rest while still keeping an eye on his next door neighbor Dawn.
As far as my Senior horse Retirement business, I've always believed that those that need me, will find me. Case in point: Eagle.
Monday I received a phone call from a very nice woman who has been the caretaker of Eagle for the past 8 years. She was trying to help his owner find the horse a nice retirement home as her schedule no longer allowed her to care for a horse with his special needs.
So after speaking with both the caretaker and owner on Monday, a visit from the owner on Tuesday, Wednesday I was on the road to beautiful Cornersville, TN to pick up the new guy 🙂
They were true to their word that Eagle was a large, beautiful and sweet Quarter Horse. Upon entering his paddock, he stood perfectly still and allowed me to check him over. My first impression was that he was a sweet old soul, kind and gentle.
He was not too fond of going on the trailer, however after the arrival of some friendly neighbors, he walked on with no problem. The ride home went smoothly. Upon arrival at Ferrell Hollow Farm, he was greeted by my husband Alan, my farm helper Rachel and my 2 dogs. He called out to try to find a familiar voice. Dawn answered back. He immediately started grazing and settled in very quickly. He was placed in a paddock adjacent to several other horses and he could meet and greet them thru the fence. He learned where the shelter was, the water and the salt which he found very tasty.
Eagle was diagnosed this year with Cushing's Disease, which is usually a benign tumor of the pituitary gland that overproduces cortisol. The most obvious symptom he has is that his winter coat has not completely shed out. He also has corrective shoeing on the front feet for a condition called Navicular which means he has heel pain. He also has rain rot (a fungal skin condition), a coronary band abscess on the right hind hoof and most noticibly a significant right hind leg injury about 5 weeks old which has a few more weeks of daily care until it is healed.
Eagle made it clear that he prefers other companions around him, is very tolerant of my fussing over him, curious and willing to trust me and loves the grass. I am sure that we will enjoy getting to know and care for Eagle and I think he is going to really like his new home.
Today when I headed outto treat Opi and Aries's leg injuries, an unfortunate emergency occurred. I keep a routine for all of the horses and they know what to expect and today was no different. Aries got her treatment, then it was Opi's turn. She had been out grazing and came into the shed knowing she would get some treats. I gave her a couple of handfuls of grass hay pellets in her feed bucket and started to clean her leg injury. After only about 2 bites, she began to choke. I was hoping that she would be able to clear the blockage on her own, but it became apparent pretty soon that she could not. I got my XL syringe and bucket of water and proceeded to get water into her mouth to try and dissolve or push the blockage down. No luck. She was expelling mucous and water from her nose and mouth, which meant it could go no further than the blockage–it had to come back up. So that's when I called my vet to come and push the obstruction down with a tube.
I gave her an IV shot of Banamine per the vet's instruction which helped her relax while we waited for the him to arrive. After he arrived, he gave her a small dose of a sedative so she would be compliant with what he needed to do with her. I reminded him that she does not like anything in her mouth and will toss her head and even rear up in the air. Of course the handlers need to stay safe and there's no need for a horse to become agitated when medical attention is needed.
Fortunately the tube was able to push the blockage down and she was out of danger. From the time she choked until the vet was finished was about 2 hours. Waiting for the vet to arrive was the longest part. I used my Peace and Calming spray and massaged the pressure points in her ears to help keep her calm while we waited.
Horses can choke on literally anything they ingest, some are able to clear it on their own, while others need to have all rations soaked. Opi has been at my farm for 5 years and has had many a ration of hay pellets and never had any problems. All it takes is one time, so it is imperative that I know what to do in a situation like this. Horses here are always monitored throughout the day and night, so very little time would go by before an accident, injury or illness was discovered.
I am grateful that I was right there when this occurred so it could be treated right away and that we had a positive outcome!
When it comes to my gelding, Haley, I am grateful for several things. One of those is the fact that I have a wonderful barefoot trimmer for him. She stays on a routine schedule with his trims and is very kind and patient with him.
The other thing I am very grateful for is each day I have with him, knowing that as he follows his path, he will choose his time to leave and until then I continue to be his steadfast, devoted caretaker, loving him unconditionally.
As I've mentioned before Haley is very neurologically compromised therefore he does not bear weight evenly on any of his feet. He is always compensating and it is amazing to watch him get to where he wants to go around the field or to his stall.
Left Hind before trim Right Hind before trim
Before she started trimming, she looked at all of his feet and the right hind one in particular and just said "I don't even know what to say about that one!". I said "I know-it's not pretty." We agreed that she could only take off a bit of the outside flare and a little bit off of the toe and that was it. He can not pick up either hind foot. All work is done on the ground for those.
For the front feet we are trying to keep the pressure off of the toe cracks. She said I need to soak both front feet in the tea tree/cider vinegar for the thrush. Great I thought–soaking requires picking up the foot multiple times which is something a normal horse can do, but my horse is far from normal. In order for him to pick up a front foot, the placement and weight of the supporting alternating hind has to be just right. We'll see how that goes!
Today was one of the most humid days we've had this summer—just miserable to be out in. However being a full-time caretaker to lots of animals, much less older, special needs horses requires commitment and dedication no matter what the weather is!
We had a big thunderstorm this morning only about 45 minutes into my feeding routine, leaving my dogs and I taking cover in the main horse barn. Oh well, I needed to do something about those pesky dirt dobbers making nests in my feed room anyway.
My 2 dogs, Lucy and Molly are scared of thunder. In fact they almost become another appendage as they only feel safe if right under my feet! This afternoon we had another thunderstorm and they weathered it out with me in my "outside office"–better known as my utility room attached to the carport where I store and make my natural horse care products and herbal blends for the residents.
Kaya had decided to take up residence on the seat of the Kubota after her dinner because she is not afraid of storms. Well the dogs knew we had to make the trek back down to the main barn and proceeded to hop in the Kubota and wait for me!
Once down at the horse barn, I was taking the hay to the feeders on the dry lot and looked up and what in the world did I see?
Meanwhile, oblivious to the beauty in the sky, the dogs were ready to go back to the house.
Well I had best be heading back out to find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow since from the looks of it, it should be right behind the house in the woods!
What would you do if on your daily morning feeding you found one of the horses with this kind of injury?
Well first of all, don't panic. Check for any uncontrolled bleeding and determine if this is an injury where the veterinarian should be called. Then gather up the necessary first aid supplies.
My first aid kit includes a lot of natural remedies. First I used Colloidal Silver wound spray to clean the wound and the areas around it. Then I switched to a Tea Tree solution. As evidenced by the picture, there was a lot to clean. Her leg was swollen and very tender to the touch. She was as good of a patient as she could have been. And it took awhile to clean this mess up.
Cleaning allowed me to see the actual extent of the damage, how many wounds there were and where.
After the leg was as clean as possible, an anti-biotic ointment was applied. An arnica based liniment was gently rubbed onto the swollen area careful not to touch the open wounds.
I then made an herbal mixture of Echinacea, Rosehips, Calendula, Cleavers and Garlic which she will receive twice a day. These herbs were chosen for their antimicrobial actions to help her fight any infection. She will also receive frequent cleaning and re-dressing of the wound as needed.
Hopefully swift action and careful monitoring will go a long way towards helping Opi's leg heal without infection or complications.
Today myself and two other women traveled 30 miles to get 100 bales of the most gorgeous Orchardgrass I have ever seen. The farmer who grew it helped us load it from the field. I found him as a new (to me) local hay supplier last winter. He grows Orchardgrass and Bermuda–and a lot of it! I have tested it for it's nutritional value and it is top quality hay and tests under the recommended NSC level of 10%. The senior horses absolutely love it as it is very soft and tasty. Over the coming months I will be purchasing 200 more Orchardgrass bales and 100 Bermuda bales from him to satisfy my senior residents thru the winter. This is in addition to the 300 bales of other grass hay I have already put up!! You can imagine the cost of buying and feeding this much hay! Well I am not willing to sacrifice quality for quantity when it comes to the older horses–in my opinion they deserve the very best I can give them 🙂
Tuesday this week was Farrier Day at my farm. I am fortunate to have a wonderful farrier close by who will do shoes and trims and understands that trimming senior horses often presents it's own set of challenges. He has been working with me for the 13 years I have lived on my farm.
Farrier Day can be an exhausting day. Most of the horses that get trimmed need to be taken from their pastures to the main horse barn. We have been doing this long enough to have a system in place that works pretty well. We are careful to never separate pasture-mates–each group will be brought in for their trim, turned back out and then another group brought in and so on until we are done. We certainly do not want to stress out our seniors so keeping them with their herd and moved into the main barn only long enough for their feet to be done is very important. And they also tell me that days such as Farrier Day interupt their regularly scheduled nap time!
Haley has his own barefoot trimmer because he is extremely difficult to work on, and he can not be moved as far as the main barn while his pasture-mates are trimmed. So the farrier is so kind to go to their run in shed to trim. This avoids undue stress on anyone.
Tess's right hind foot before the trim (she really needed it!). She has unexplained growths coming out of the heel area–we don't know if it's related to her Cushings Disease or old age or what. For now they are not bothering her.
Remember the story of Maggie getting a nail in her frog? Well here is that right front foot before the trim and reset–farrier gave her a clean bill of health and told me good job on taking care of it!
Tee getting hind feet trimmed, Dawn and Willie with farrier using the rasp.
It was a successful day for everyone and I sure was exhausted at the end of it all!