Monday, July 25, 2016

This is My Post Title

My latest experiment in horse management seems to be working, although the horses have been wreaking whatever havoc they can create.  The resulting issues are small compared to the blood bath Bombay recently got.  I'm still finding puddles of dried blood around the barn and paddock.  I swear, if a human being lost that much blood, he'd be dead.  It's nice to be a horse and have a much larger blood supply, I suppose.  Looking at Bombay you'd think nothing happened.

There was some leg swelling the next day, and he was still limping.  I opted to give him AspirEze instead of Bute, and now he's walking normal and fighting with Rock over the fence.

I took Lostine off her Bute and the results were not good.  She was limping on three legs, meaning that she only had one front leg moving normally.  I gave her a power wash last night and she seemed so happy to be cooled down and clean.  I gave her some AspirEze too, and now you can't tell that she could barely walk the night before.

I've been rotating the horses for individual turnout every 6 to 12 hours.  Apparently, being left out in the arena without the other horses made Gabbrielle nervous, because she left 10 piles of manure for me to clean up in the morning. That's 10 poops in 12 hours.  The other horses each only had 4 piles, so Gabbrielle pooped 2.5x more than them.  I'm not kidding when I say she is a manure machine.  I just look at her and she lifts her tail.  She's so weird.

When I turned Rock out, he made a bee-line for Gabbrielle and teased her through the fence.  She pinned her ears at him, tried to bite him repeatedly, and when she couldn't chase him off, she pooped all over the place.  I think all of her emotions are tied in with her digestive tract.  If she could speak, she'd probably punctuate her sentences with farts.

I AM THE QUEEN OF THE UNIVERSE! (Fffffffffttttttttt baaaaaaaarrrrrrup!)

Rock then moseyed over to Bombay's stall and the very second that I walked back inside the house, the two of them began the process of ripping fly masks off each other's faces.  I threw the back door open and they both stood at attention as if totally innocent of any wrongdoings.

What?  We were just standing here... talking.  Right?

I marched down to the barn and pointed at Rock's stall saying, "Your choice is to go back in your stall or give me your fly mask.  Which will it be?"

He stood stock still with his head as high in the air as he could get it, refusing to cooperate with either choice.  I pulled his head down and confiscated both his and Bombay's fly masks before they could destroy them.  As soon as I shut the back door, they were biting each other's naked faces over the fence.  I know I'm going to have more blood to clean up thanks to those idiots.  You'd think they have no pain threshold because they get so much joy out of ripping the skin off each other.

I rode my bike down the street to get the address of the house that has the agave plant leaning on the power lines, and then called the power company to report the problem.  The irony is that the agave plant is on the property of The Mad Pruner.  This is the man who I could not keep out of my backyard when he first moved in, because he was trying to landscape his view, even though it wasn't his land.  He was sick of looking at another neighbor's truck parked on the hill, and he wanted to plant something that would grow fast and cover his view of the truck.  I also caught him pruning trees on public land along the bridle trails, scattering cholla balls to try to block people from using some public trails in front of his house, and planting cactus in a public turnout across the street from his house to try to prevent people from turning around there (and thus pushing the U-turners down to the turnout in front of my house), yet he won't cut down his own plant when it is threatening to bring down the power for the entire neighborhood.

Anyway, when I called the power company, I got an "automated assistant".  I told it I wanted to report a problem.  It asked for more information.  I said I wanted to report a plant that is growing into power lines.  It said, "Please hold while I redirect you to someone who can open your new account."

WTF?

I just hung up and sent them an email.  As soon as society starts depending on computers to communicate, we're all in deep doo doo.  Although, sometimes trying to get your point across to human beings can be a chore as well.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Back in Triage

Every once in a while little things start going wrong, but because they are little, I easily forget about them.  Then, in time, everything little that had been going wrong comes to a head simultaneously and I find myself fighting more fires than I can manage alone.

A few days ago I was talking with a friend in my back yard when I heard a loud zapping noise coming from the front of my house.  I said, "What was that?"

She said, "A motor bike?"

I didn't think it sounded like a motor bike, and I intended to go investigate once we said our goodbyes, however we kept finding things to talk about and I instantly forgot about the strange noise... until I walked into the house.  We had a power outage, but the power had come back on.  There's a super tall agave plant in front of a house down the street from me, and it has grown up through the power lines for our neighborhood, and is now in the process of falling over.  Nobody lives on the property where it is growing, and every time we drive up or down the street, we say we are going to call the power company to report the problem, and every time we get home, we forget to call.  Now it is the weekend, so we are hoping the power lines will hold up until Monday.

Another issue that didn't seem quite right was that our drip system seemed to be watering too much.  It turned out that the sprinkler manifold broke and our well pump has been running non-stop for God knows how long.  My husband is trying to repair it before our well breaks.  It is in the habit of breaking down over holidays and weekends during the hottest weeks of the year.

Then there is Scrappy, who has been behaving oddly.  I thought it was just because I took his step away so that he could no longer jump up on the couch.  His breath is horrendous, and every time I sit down to eat in the living area, he has been jumping up next to me and panting on me so that my food tastes like his breath and I start gagging.  So, I removed the step he jumped on to get up there, and he's been lying on the tile floor all sprawled out instead of sleeping on the couch.  Now it turns out that either his bladder is failing him or he has yet another bladder stone, because he's been asking to go out every few minutes and has been peeing up a storm.  Only on a weekend when the vet clinics are closed do my pets get sick.

Then there's Gabbrielle.  She's been bitchier than normal toward the geldings, and I kept thinking that I have to separate her from the herd for their protection, but every time I go to the barn I forget and put all the horses together, except for Lostine, who is on stall rest.

When the farrier came out yesterday, he found a cut under Bombay's eye that I had not seen yet, because it must have happened during the night.  It was in a bad spot because the skin was spread wide and the eyelid muscle was popping out.  It probably could have used a couple of stitches, but I opted to just clean it and treat it myself because I have my limit to how many vet appointments I can handle in one month before having a nervous breakdown.

Tonight I went down to the barn to put liniment on Lostine's rump and do her stretching exercises before feeding the horses their dinner, and Gabbrielle met me at the gate.  She had herself pumped up big with this look of horror in her eyes.  I said, "What's going on?"

She stepped aside for me to see Bombay, whose front legs were covered in some kind of black substance.  Mind you, Bombay is a gray horse, so seeing his legs completely black baffled me.  I ran over to him and looked closer at the gunk, and it was as if his entire front end has fallen into a vat of tar.  I looked all around the horse paddock, but there was nothing he could have rolled in.  I wondered if this were some kind of prank the kids in the neighborhood pulled, painting my horse black, but not finishing the job.  My horses have been shot by someone with paintball guns in the past, but this looked like someone painted something on with a brush and it had dried and cracked.

Nothing was making sense.  So, I led Bombay to the hose and tried hosing down his legs, but the gunk wasn't coming off, and he was limping like he was injured.  I grabbed a scrub sponge and some soap and put some elbow grease into it, and then I saw a river of red flowing down his legs.  The black stuff was dried blood and I had just reopened his wounds.

I managed to get one front leg relatively clean, and spotted a cut on one hind leg, but the other front leg just kept bleeding and the dried blood was caked on so thick that no amount of scrubbing could get it off.  He also had blood all over his muzzle.  I ended up power washing him like one would a car, scrubbing every square inch of him with soap.  Despite all the blood, he did not have any swelling.

I found a puddle of dried blood in the barn aisle up against Lostine's gate.  I couldn't get all the dried chunks of blood off the bad leg to be able to determine where exactly it was coming from, but when I ran my hand down the length of that leg, it felt like there were cuts and abrasions all along the inside from the chest all the way down to the hoof.

It doesn't seem likely that Bombay would lie down in the barn aisle and get his legs caught in the railings.  The horses lie down in the arena where the sand is soft.  So, I suspect that Gabbrielle pinned him against Lostine's gate and kicked the shit out of him.  I've seen her do that to Rock before.  She's merciless, and the boys don't even have to do anything to trigger it.  I'm beginning to remember why I wanted to sell her last summer.  This is deja vu all over again.

I contemplated wrapping the bad leg, but knew it would require a full length dressing, and that would mean using up every square inch of materials in my first aid kit, and I'd consider myself lucky if the dressing made it through the night before Bombay shredded it.  The last time I dressed one of his leg injuries, my hour of hard work only lasted ten minutes.  I opted to take the minimalist approach and just spread ointment all over his leg.

I lost track of time, but I think it was an hour and a half later that I finally got to tending to Lostine's spinal and hip injuries.  The sun had set and I was running out of light, so I had to skip the stretching exercises.  When I got back in the house dripping with sweat and feeling dehydrated, I was greeted with dog crap on the carpet and three dogs who needed to pee immediately.  I literally cannot have one thing happen outside of my normal routine without all hell breaking loose in the dog department.  Someone has been having accidents on the carpet regularly ever since Independence Day.  One of my neighbors has been setting off firecrackers every night, even though we are now at July 23rd.  That's 19 nights of having to listen to explosions just outside my back door.  I'm sure there is a correlation between my neighbor's inconsiderate behavior and my dog's incontinence.  All I can do is hope that the a-hole blows his own hands off.

I attempted to steam vac the carpet the other day, but when I pushed the solution tank into the frame of the steam vac, my hand pushed right through the rotted plastic and solution spilled all over the floor.  I spent the next several hours mopping up the mess and researching the model number of the part I needed, then ordering it over the Internet.  I would have just bought a new steam vac, but we just replaced the scrub brushes, which also broke due to overheated and rotted plastic, and I hadn't used them yet.

I was feeling frustrated and tried to burn off some steam by working out on our rowing machine, but that broke too.  Nothing lasts very long in the desert heat.  It's best to just not touch anything until Fall arrives with cooler temperatures.

I've decided to deal with the horses by keeping everyone locked up in their stalls for the rest of the summer and only letting one horse out at a time.  It's just too hot for me to be living outdoors tending to all these injuries caused by irritable horses fighting.  When I do let them out to mingle, all they do is stand in the shade of the barn anyway.  The only thing I am taking away from them is their ability to come into physical contact with one another.  This is going to make my life easier in so many ways.  I hope those aren't my famous last words.  I'm sure the horses will figure out some way to make my life harder with this new routine, but I'm already one step ahead of them by locking bicycle chains around their stall gates.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Who Goes There?

While dumping the manure last night, my eye caught an anomaly in the landscape.  After a while, I almost tune out quail, bunnies, and coyote, because I see them constantly, but this was different.  I held still and watched the area where there was movement, and eventually two big orange eyes turned toward me.  Then I saw these huge talons take a one giant step toward a water puddle.  It was an owl walking along the ground to get a drink.  I've never seen an owl walk before.  It's rather fascinating.  They walk heel first and roll the whole foot up to their toes.

At dusk, just minutes before total darkness, I spotted the owl again perched on the round pen panels and tried to get pictures.  It is hard to get good shots of animals in the dark, and if I attempt to move in close enough for my flash to make a difference, I risk scaring off my subject.  Plus, if I don't scare it off on my approach, once the camera flashes, it will be gone, so I only get one shot with a flash.  I chose to zoom in and stabilize my camera against walls without the flash.  Most of the shots still turned out blurry and lacking in detail because of the lack of light.



The owl kept turning its head like the girl in the Exorcist, so most of the shots ended up either just being the back of its head or a blurry head.  These are the few with eyes on screen.  It was scanning the ground waiting for little animals to approach the water hole so it could swoop down on dinner, so I tried making different animal vocalizations to get the owl to look in my direction.  I'm sure my neighbor thought I was crazy lurking around in the bushes below his patio acting like an animal.

In other news, the farrier came by to do the horses' hoof trims, and I told him about Lostine's cracked hip or pelvis.  I suggested that he start with her hind end to see if she can stand on each hind leg before beginning the trim, and if it is a struggle, we'll just skip the trim for a few more weeks.  He could tell that she was in pain even with the Bute masking it, but she did stand on one hind leg for him.

It turned out that my farrier also has some schooling in equine chiro work, acupuncture and massage.  He told me he wanted to take a look at her and give me some exercises I can do to help stretch out her muscles.  From my description of her behavior, he thought she just locked up a stifle as opposed to fracturing a bone.  Since the vet didn't take x-rays, I don't really know the full extent of the injury, so he could very well have been right.  But once he started checking her reflexes, he said it was not the stifle.

He could visibly see a problem with her spine over her rump, that her right hip was one and a half inches further back than her left hip, and that even though it was the right hip that she hit, her left hip hurt her more.  He went ahead and made some adjustments that didn't straighten her out completely, but he was happy with the improvement.  Her reflexes and conformation were improved after the alignment.  He showed me the stretches he wanted me to do with her hind legs and tail, and I paid him a little extra for the help.  He told me to rub liniment on her rump and that would be more effective in keeping down the inflammation than just using Bute.

I was happy to get the added help, because I've been having a hard time believing that Bute and stall rest alone will solve her problem.  I talked to a friend who has used this vet, and she swaps vet stories with her other friends, and apparently this vet is known for making Bute and stall rest the cure for everything.

These early morning summer appointments are killing me.  I always have to sacrifice something to be at the barn on time.  Either the manure doesn't get cleaned up or I don't get my breakfast or something along those lines.  This morning it was that I didn't get a shower, so I was wearing clothes from the day before and dripping with sweat.

The Chiwees got into a nasty fight and I had to break it up.  Scrappy was biting Stewie over and over, and he's too deaf to hear me, so I had to grab him and pull him away, and he whipped around and bit me repeatedly.  I had to carry him to the time out kennel.  Then the farrier arrived, so I had to get Scrappy out of the tiny kennel so he could get water, but Stewie didn't get his breakfast.  Stewie was farting around avoiding his food, and I couldn't leave it on the floor for diabetic Midge to consume, so I had to put the food dish up high and leave the dogs to their own devices.

I also had to toss my own breakfast simultaneously to finish later, and take my pills that I'm supposed to take with breakfast and dinner.  Fortunately, the farrier got started without me.  His next appointment should be that last super early one, and after that, the heat should no longer be an issue.  When I returned to my breakfast, I found that it had been commandeered by a house fly, so I threw it away and started over.  Next time I'm going to remember to set my alarm before I fall asleep when I have a farrier appointment the following day.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Small Pleasures

I was beginning to worry that the monsoons decided to pass us by this summer, and we were going to start having more severe drought problems, because it hasn't rained since June.  I have a love/hate relationship with the monsoons.  I love them because they replenish the ground water supply, make beautiful sunsets, and are always a good source of excitement, but I hate them because they are destructive, they scare the hell out of my dog, and they bring out some nasty wildlife and weeds.

Yesterday evening I went outside, and while the sky was blue and uncluttered overhead, I could see a rain shaft to the south, and some mean looking thunderclouds to the west.  I turned on the news to see Phoenix streets flooded and power outages, yet we remained untouched.  My husband got home from work and wanted to take the dogs out to do their business immediately because a wave of clouds and dust had followed him home.  Right when he and the dogs got back indoors, our house got hit hard by a wall of wind and I turned my head to see a haboob blowing dust across the mountains.

We didn't get much rain, but the horses' tails were horizontal in the wind, and we have a chance to get some rain each afternoon over the next few days.  I was glad that we didn't have to deal with a power outage, because I would have missed JoJo's hometown visits.  I wouldn't want to have to make the decisions she's got to make over the next few episodes of The Bachelorette.  Usually, there are one or two good guys who stand out and the rest are easy to pare off, but she's got four really, really good guys to choose from and she doesn't want to let any of them go, because it will break their hearts.  But then, in the real world, no man would tolerate his significant other dating three other guys, so three of them do have to hit the road.

But I digress, here are some pictures of the arrival of our monsoon weather...


I am forever trying to get power lines out of my pictures, but in the time it would take me to move to a location where they are not within frame, the sun would have set.



I finally got some pictures of the road runner through the window...


It was enjoying the shade of the barn until Gabbrielle approached to investigate.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Testing Testing One Two...

I've been waiting for a day where the temperatures, humidity and wind speeds are tolerable enough to ride a horse, so that I can test out my leg on drugs.  I haven't ridden since the doctor started me on the inflammatory medication, and I wanted to see if it could stand up to me tiring out my leg while horseback riding, so that I can successfully dismount without having to physically pick up my leg with my hands and drag it across the horse's rump.

My first few attempts at riding today were thwarted by energy depletion.  One time I forgot some things I needed in the house, and once I got back into the air conditioning I didn't want to go back out into the furnace.  Other times I spotted some problem that needed to be taken care of right away, and got too tired from fixing that to saddle up a horse.  I checked the weather forecast and saw that I only had a couple of hours before rain might be moving in, so I had to put on my blinders and focus on nothing but getting prepared to ride.

Rock protested, telling me that even with the wind and the clouds, it was too hot for him to be wearing a saddle and carrying a human around on his back.  I picked him because I have to use my legs a lot to keep him moving, and the whole point of me riding was to try to tire out my medicated leg.  I promised him I'd keep it short and sweet.  My helmet cam caught me positioning my stirrup on my bum leg...

Rock's saddle is great in many ways, but the fenders are thick and stiff, so the rider or an assistant on the ground has to twist them to get the boot through the stirrup.  (Yes, I've already used the conditioning and broomstick method, and no, I'm not willing to spend money on solutions like swivel stirrups.)  Of course, upon mounting, I discovered that the stirrups were too long.  I tried to remember who the last person was to ride in that saddle, but I think it was me.  I didn't want to dismount to fix them, because I was afraid that I wouldn't have the energy in that heat to mount again, so I just rode with what I had.  Rock was grumpy...

The clouds had been covering the sun all morning, but of course as soon as I saddled him up, the clouds parted and the heat was unbearable.  Rock let me know that it affected him just as much as it affected me.  I had sweat pouring into my eyes and burning them.  My skin felt like it was on fire.  Rock refused to go forward a couple of times, and he kept poking my boots with his nose to tell me to get off.  Whenever the sun went behind the clouds for a few seconds, our moods improved...

When the wind stopped and the sun was beating down, I let him stand still and rest.  I wanted to ride him into the barn for shade, but I've worked too hard at training the horses to stay out of the barn when they have a rider on their backs to ruin it now.

(You can see Bombay peeing in his stall.)  I was torn on whether to lock up the other horses.  I didn't think they'd cause trouble because they just wanted to stay cool in the shade, but I didn't trust Bombay and Gabbrielle to not destroy my mounting block when I wasn't looking.  Plus, if a dust devil blew through, they would stampede to avoid getting hit by the debris, so I locked them up.

The heat got so bad and the clouds kept parting around the sun right over my arena.  I was waiting for the clouds to cover the sun, but they weren't cooperating, and Rock was getting anxious.  He was begging me to get that saddle off his back.  So, I dismounted smoothly and by myself, without having to lift or drag my leg with my hands, and led him into the barn aisle to get some shade.  I waited for the sun to go behind the clouds while I adjusted the stirrups.

It turned out that they were all messed up.  One stirrup was shorter than the other.  I wondered how long I'd been riding like that before I noticed the problem.

Just look at that long, thick mane...

That pesky sun wouldn't go away, so I led him to the trailer to be tied so that I could unsaddle him.  My helmet cam caught me tying the lead rope, so I thought I'd post it to show everyone how I tie horses...

This makes it easy to release should the horse get hung up.  My doctor seemed a bit shocked by how much sun I've gotten since most people of the desert hibernate indoors all summer.  I suspect that by the shape I am in, he assumes that I am a couch potato, but I do spend several hours a day doing physical labor outdoors because I own horses, and that results in me getting tanned, burned, blistered, and freckled.

I wanted to get a picture of Rock before getting his tack off, but he kept hiding his head behind the trailer.  So, I untied the rope to back him way up away from the trailer, and this is what he did...

Silly horse threw his head around until the rope came off the trailer.  Of course, as soon as I unsaddled him and put him away, the sun went behind the clouds.  Oh well, I guess I'll just have to wait for another day to get in a full medicated leg test.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Settling In

The horses seem to finally be settling in to this new routine of their matriarch being on stall rest.  I think it helped that I removed the mash bucket from Lostine's stall.  Every horse was misbehaving because every horse wanted whatever was in that bucket that Lostine was rejecting.  I was keeping their stall gates locked with bicycle chains to prevent any further funny business.

Last night I decided to let Lostine out to roam and sleep on the soft sand in the arena while the other horses stayed locked in their stalls.  I figured there would be a lot of banging and water trough kicking as a form of protest, but I didn't hear anything.  My neighbor was up earlier than me, so perhaps he heard something.  I was so exhausted that I slept through it.

In the morning, I could tell that Lostine did lie down to sleep, which made me happy, because a lot of times horses with arthritis, hip or leg injuries won't lay down because they are afraid that they won't be able to get back up.  I can relate.  However, by laying down, she tore the scab off her hip and got sand in the wound, so I had to break out the cleaning bucket, dress the wound, and hike all the way back to the house to retrieve the Swat that I forgot because I went out a different door from where I had it posted to try to catch my attention.

The vet said I could let her out as long as I don't let any other horse out with her.  She mainly does not want the other horses to bully her or spook and cause her to take off running, because she could injure herself further.  Although, at dinner time last night, she was spooking in her stall at every little thing, which she rarely does.  I figured she saw a snake or something that scared her earlier, and then worked herself up into a state of panic when she realized that by being locked in her stall, she's a sitting duck for predators.  That's part of why I wanted to let her out that night.  She needed to relax.  Sometimes stall rest isn't restful.

G scratches her neck while L sticks out her tongue, displaying her opinion of stall rest.
We've got a cool down heading into our area, which should help improve everyone's mood.  The horses' manes and tails are getting sticky, so I hope I can get enough of a break from the usual ridiculousness to bathe them.

This little bunny appears to be on stall rest too.  It has been sitting under this plant by our back porch all summer, and finally learned that there is no need to run from humans.

But if I come outside with the dogs, it does run, which gets the dogs barking and lunging in its direction.  They probably wouldn't see it if it just held still.

Now that the coyotes are gone, the bunnies and quail have returned to setting up camp under the hedge in front of our house.  When I go out the front door, I have to pause and listen for vehicles coming up the street, because as soon as I step off the front porch, bunnies and birds scatter in all directions and scurry across the street.  I don't want to be the cause of anyone getting hit by a car.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Seasonal Barn Management Makeovers

When I was in elementary school in California, I remember a lot of emphasis being placed on the seasons.  Every bulletin board was covered with seasonal decorations and every subject taught was tied in to the seasons.  I could not comprehend why this was so important, because at the time, California only had one season:  Perfect.  I do not remember ever feeling too hot or too cold.  The seasons were indistinguishable, and all this stuff about snow had to be something from history, because it certainly did not snow where I lived, and being a child, I figured that the world was the same everywhere you went.

Now that I'm an adult who is responsible for taking care of four horses, and now that I no longer live in California, I am painfully aware of the seasonal changes, because they call for a complete barn management makeover.  Whatever routine I got used to that was working for me over the previous three months, no longer works and I have to train myself to change my habits along with the seasons.

For instance, now that it is summer, I have to spend a much larger chunk if my time outdoors cleaning and filling water troughs because the horses drink a lot more.  Also, when I bathe them or hose them down, I have to spray the first 100 feet of water onto the ground because it has been boiling inside of the hose and pipes and will scald my horses.  Also, I have to keep all fly sprays and ointments inside the air conditioned house, because otherwise the sprays dissipate, leaving me with an empty bottle, and the ointments turn to soup.

However, storing them in the house presents a problem in itself, and that is being able to remember to take them down to the barn with me so that I don't have to expend all my energy running back and forth between the house and barn to retrieve what I forgot.  Notes on doors do not help.  Been there, done that.  I need my reading glasses to read them anyway (and hunting around the house for glasses is one of my more time consuming tasks, so I usually choose to just not read the note), but after a while, notes on doors just become a part of the door and I don't even see them there.  I've also tried setting the sprays and ointments down on the floor next to the door, and I still walk right past them or walk out a different door.   So, I'm blind as well as forgetful.

This summer, in particular, I've been having problems with my ability to focus because the extreme heat scrambles my brain, and apparently, I keep forgetting to latch gates.  I shut them, but don't latch or lock them.  The sun is so bright that I can't just look at the gates and see that they are unlatched.  I have to test all the latches by pulling on the gates with my hands, which burns me if the gate is being hit by direct sunlight.  So, then I have to remember to wear gloves.  Anyway, my latest new routine to try to remember is going around and testing all of the gate latches with gloved hands before I walk away.  Either that or get Lasik surgery so that I can see again.

I often go down to the barn with the intention of doing just one thing, but I always find twenty other things that need my immediate attention, and two hours later I crawl back into the air conditioned house only to realize that I never did the one task I originally set out to do.

Also, now that I have a horse who is on stall rest, barn management has become exponentially more complicated.  On the surface, it seems simple, but believe me, it's not.  If anything at all can go wrong, it does.

The vet gave me Bute in powder form, which is cheaper than the paste, but my record with spilling powder or having it blow away in the wind is reaching Guinness Book proportions.  I almost protested and asked for paste, but told myself that I just need to focus, and then I can successfully deal with the powder.  The vet said that the powder is easier because you can "just" mix it in with her pellets.  She stuck around to do a test run and make sure that Lostine did eat the Bute.  She did, but only that one time.  She also kicked her bucket over and nearly spilled the Bute on the ground, but the vet grabbed the bucket in time and used a lead rope to tie it to a railing.

That evening Lostine ate most of the pellets, but left the powder and powder-covered pellets in bottom of the the bucket.  So, this morning I went to the trouble of dragging a hose over to her mounted bucket to mix the Bute and pellets with water thinking that would disguise the pungent orange smell of the Bute, which she doesn't like.  But she refused to touch it.  That means that I get to spend an extra 15 minutes out in the searing heat twice a day mixing powder and water in a syringe, haltering Lostine, and injecting it into her uncooperative mouth.  She's really good at fighting me when I worm her, and she is an expert at always keeping a chunk of hay stored in the back of her mouth so that she can spit out whatever I am trying to get down her throat.  I always forget to wash the food out of her mouth ahead of time.  She depends upon my forgetfulness for so many things.

Anyway, she hadn't eaten her mash and Bute this morning, and I opened up her stall to halter her and see how she was moving, but before I could untangle the rope halter, she walked right past me out of the barn into the arena by herself.  Obviously, she's feeling much better, even without the Bute.  I think it's because the swelling in her legs has gone way down.  I thought I'd just let her walk around on her own a little bit while I cleaned her stall.

Then I noticed that her water was getting low, so I dumped, cleaned and started refilling her trough.  I had to drag the hose through Bombay's stall to get it to hers.  Then I moved all the way to the far end of the arena to clean up manure, and heard a big metal bang.  I looked up to see Bombay escaping from his stall -- apparently, I had closed the gate, but forgot to latch it again -- and he ran right across the barn aisle into Lostine's empty stall and started slurping down the Bute-laced mash in her bucket.

I took off my hat and ran toward him waving it in the air and with each second I was hearing my wallet being flushed down the toilet.  Bombay was totally ignoring me and I was so focused on him that I wasn't paying attention to anything else going on around me.  I had startled Lostine by running at Bombay waving my hat, and she took off running, which she's not supposed to do because she can injure herself worse.  She ran right in front of me and into her stall.  So, I was in this pickle where I need to get Lostine to hold still and Bombay to get the heck out of her stall.  I smacked him with my hat until he went back to his own stall, and locked Lostine in her stall with a now empty bucket of what was her morning dose of pain killer.

Not in a million years would I have expected that to happen, but my forgetfulness is the ingredient for a perfect storm.  So, I'm back to the drawing board trying to find a routine I can do that outsmarts my poor memory and is efficient enough to prevent me from being out in the sun long enough to have heat stroke.  I think the trick will be for me to force myself to only do one thing at a time.  I am no longer capable of multi-tasking.  Because it is so hot, I'm always trying to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously in order to get out of the heat faster, but then I overlook small details and the horses take advantage of it, and I end up doing a bunch of other tasks I hadn't planned on doing because I'm constantly being presented with problems caused by my forgetfulness.

Wait.  What was I saying?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Veterinary Adventure

On Friday night, I saw that Lostine had smashed the point of her hip again, and this time there was bloody gash.  Because she is so fast and low to the ground, she takes tight corners and many times her hip bone does not clear the metal posts of the barn.  She's been banging her hip for as long as I've known her, and the hair on both hip points is white as a result.  However, this gash looked kind of like a hoof print, and I wonder who would have kicked her.  She was walking fine and eating fine, so I just cleaned up the wound and protected it from flies.

Saturday morning she was walking with a limp, so I gave her my last dose of Banamine.  On Sunday she was just a little stiff and wobbly, but still moving around and eating fine.  I called my vet on Monday only to find out that she was on vacation, so I bought some AspirEze at the feed store to help with the inflammation and pain.

Something happened to complicate the injury Monday night.  Lostine was standing with her hind legs splayed and her tail straight up in the air in the arena, and she would not come into the barn for dinner.  I tried to encourage her to move, but she was reluctant.  I worried that she might have injured her spine in addition to her hip.  I brought her a bucket of grain with AspirEze, hoping that would ease the pain enough to get her moving, but it didn't, so I let her eat her hay where she stood in the arena and brought three buckets of water to her.

I didn't want her to feel like she was vulnerable to predators standing by herself out in the open all night, but I couldn't release Rock from his stall because anytime he comes near Lostine, she runs away.  His presence stresses her out.  Gabbrielle wouldn't push Lostine around, but she does irritate Lostine.  So, I let Bombay out to keep her company.

In the morning, I realized that was a mistake, because Bombay tipped over all of her water buckets and kicked them around the arena because he thought they were new toys for him.  I had no idea how many hours Lostine had gone without water.  She was still standing in the same spot as the night before.

I immediately refreshed her water supply and she slurped down half a bucket of water.  I fed her some hay, more grain and AspirEze, cleaned up the manure piles she was standing in, and called a vet I haven't used before.  In my head, I was envisioning x-rays and surgery, and I felt that at her age with her arthritis, I would rather euthanize her than to drag out a painful process of recovery.

While waiting for the vet, I was trying to research livestock burial laws in my county, but got frustrated with my inability to locate the information I needed.  Just then blogger Christine, who used to live near me, but has since moved to the northwest, sent me an email with a recommendation for a vet I could use.  I asked her what the burial laws are in my neighborhood, and she gave me just the information I needed to make a decision on whether to bury at home or send off for cremation.  It turns out that there are a couple of locations on my land where I can legally bury a horse.  I just wasn't sure if that was the best thing to do, because I would have to put her down and bury her while my other three horses watched.  It might be better, in that case, to haul her out.

After eating, Lostine had taken a few steps toward the barn because she wanted to get into the shade.  I was worried that if I put a halter on her and pulled her, I might do more damage or cause her more pain, so I was trying to figure out a way to create shade for her where she was standing.  However, the vet arrived before I could devise a plan.  The vet's first concern was to get her out of the sun into the shade.  She felt that was more important than worrying about pain or further injury.  Surprisingly, Lostine walked right along side her.  I think everyone let out a sigh of relief, because that meant that her injury was not as bad as it seemed.

My reluctance to move her sprung from an experience I had as a child.  My neighbor's Samoyed jumped up and knocked my bunny's cage off a counter top onto the floor, and my bunny twisted her back.  She was fine on that day, but the next day she was exhibiting signs of pain, and the day after that there were mobility issues, and before we knew it, she was paralyzed.  Lostine's condition seemed to be following that same path.

However, it turned out that Lostine was not becoming paralyzed in her hind end.  She got worse over time, because of edema build up in both hind legs.  The swelling was causing her pain, but she could walk and put weight on the injured hip when forced to.  The vet checked her vitals, and they were all pretty good.  Then she checked her mechanics, and they were good as well.  She just drifts to one side to avoid putting too much weight on the hip that hurts.

This vet was able to tell from experience, without expensive x-rays, that she did not break any bones clear through, but probably has a crack/fracture in either her hip or pelvis.  She said it's an easy fix with several weeks of stall rest and Bute for the pain, and maybe leg wraps for the edema.  I can handle that.  She thinks Lostine will be exponentially better in the morning.

I was worried they would make me haul her in a trailer to their clinic, because not only am I extremely uncomfortable with hauling horses in this metropolis amongst all these crazy drivers, but I was worried that Lostine wouldn't even be able to keep her balance.  The vet said that horses balance really well on three legs and can survive a trailer ride with a broken leg just fine.  That's good to know, but it doesn't address my driver anxiety or the heat factor.

I was so glad that they did do a ranch visit.  I was graced with two vets and two assistants, and they were all very professional.  I'm relieved to have more people I can trust to help out in a pinch without taking advantage of my misfortune.  I tend to collect a very close circle of friends and service providers, and when I am forced to go outside that circle, I get nervous.  But there are plenty of good people out there.  I've just got to meet a few to find them.

Scrappy is also doing better.  His urgent peeing and vomiting stopped, so I didn't need to take him to the vet.  The problem with these bladder stones is that they are migratory and can be peed out before you can even get a vet to do an exam.

I'm so relieved that everything got resolved, because when things like this happen, I have to put my life on hold to deal with them.  Now I can get back to my life and reading everyone else's blogs.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Chaos is My Middle Name

So, after waiting all month to get the results of my x-rays and lab work, I still don't have any answers because people suck at their jobs and just can't do them right.  I swear, I have been fired from jobs for less than the stupid mistakes I see people make every day that affect me negatively.  Basically, my suspicion that they mixed up my x-rays with someone else's was correct.  My results talked about my hip and knee replacement surgeries, and I've never had any such surgeries.  Both my doctor's office and the imaging lab were having computer problems on the days I went in, because I'm lucky that way.

Then there's the blood work.  My body is a mess in general, with several systems clearly malfunctioning.  I'm also battling fatigue.  I was hoping to get some answers regarding my total lack of energy, but most everything came back normal.  Then we saw something in the results that made us question whether my lab work might have been mixed up with someone else's, as well.

The hormone levels show me as being post menopausal, yet I menstruate for three weeks out of every month.  When I told the general practitioner that, his eyes got all big and he said, "You need to see your OB/GYN and get an endometrial ablation."

I said, "I did.  It worked for about three months, and then all my problems returned."

He said, "Then you need a hysterectomy."

Crap.  I've been trying to avoid that, because major surgery means no horseback riding for a very long time.  So, now I have to go hunt down my old OB/GYN who changed practices.  The last time I went in to her old practice, they didn't have any doctors on staff and an RN did my physical.  She didn't have a clue about my history, so I never got to follow up on treatment for my HMB.  Also, there were signs in my blood work suggesting I may have cancer, but my biopsy got botched because of mistake her nurse made, so I was supposed to follow up on that, but couldn't because no doctors were available.

Anyway, before I could bring the topic back to my fatigue, he told me he was giving me two months to lose weight and bring my cholesterol down or he was going to put me on cholesterol medication, and I'm already on so many medications that I don't want anymore pills.  As is, I keep forgetting to take the majority of them.  I told him I should already be losing weight because not only do I have my mobility back and can exercise again, but I've been juicing and hardly eating anything, because everything I eat makes me sick.  I haven't been weighing myself, though, because it's just too discouraging.  I judge my success by the way my pants fit.

My cholesterol has always been high, but this is the first time I got a serious lecture about heart disease and stroke.  He took my blood pressure a second time and said it was super high and we may have to increase my dosage of blood pressure medications.  I wanted to cry, because the dosage I'm on instantly puts me to sleep, and I came in there because I wanted help with my fatigue, and now he's going to make it worse.  What kind of quality of life am I going to have if I'm asleep all day and night?  And how am I supposed to exercise to bring down my cholesterol if people have to peel me off the floor?

I definitely get less exercise in the summer than I do the rest of the year, because of the heat, but I eat so little that I can usually go all week without even having to wash dishes.  I suspect that a huge chunk of my weight can be attributed to my bloated uterus, so perhaps a hysterectomy could shave off a few pounds.  (Yes, I'm being sarcastic.)

He insisted that I monitor my blood pressure twice a week and bring him the results, like I really needed one more thing to do.  I had specific questions I was trying to remember, and he was asking me how my weekend went, what I did, whether I worked...  I was getting frustrated because I felt like this had nothing to do with anything and I was running out of time.  When I didn't give him enthusiastic answers, he kept pressing, so I told him my weekend sucked because my horse went lame and my dog got sick and as soon as I get out of his appointment, I have to set up appointments with vets.  I suspect he was trying to determine if I was depressed, but if he just asked me, I'd say no.  I'm just frickin' busy and trying to find out why my leg hurts and why I'm so tired.

I interrupted his probing to tell him that I had been taking an acid reducer, and I wanted to make sure that it didn't cause trouble with my other medications, and he said that if my acid reflux doesn't stop, we'll have to take a more aggressive treatment.  I told him I don't have acid reflux.  I just have pain and stomach upset every time I eat, which has caused me to stop eating for several days at a time.  He said, "Well, it's only a matter of time before that turns into acid reflux, which that can lead to damage to the esophagus and cancer."

Gah!

Then I told him that I think I figured out why I had a salty or soapy taste in my mouth previously.  I read that Pyrethin poisoning can do that, and there is Pyrethin in horse fly sprays.  I spray them on my hands and wipe it on the horses' faces.  He said that acid build up in my stomach would do that too, and he asked if the taste stopped when I started taking the acid reducer.  I said it did, but it also stopped when I no longer sprayed fly spray on my hands.  So, I'll have to pay closer attention to which one seems to be the cause.

Anyway, I didn't want us to get waylaid off the subject of my fatigue and leg pain, and I had a list of questions to ask him, but he was in a hurry to get to his next patient and he kept interrupting me, so I didn't get some of my questions answered.  The high cholesterol and acid reflux discussions kind of eclipsed the purpose of my appointment.

Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse, I was checking out and I overheard a discouraging conversation between my doctor and his nurse.   He had previously left the examining room to get his nurse to call the imaging lab to find my correct x-ray results.  When he asked his nurse for an update, the nurse didn't know what he was talking about.  The doctor raised his voice in frustration, and then I heard one of them say, "Oh shoot!  I threw that piece of paper away," meaning that he threw out the copy of my incorrect x-ray report that gave him the information on who to call.  Seriously?

Stooges.  All of them.

Almost as if the universe thought I hadn't yet had my fill of a lack of responsiveness from the medical community, I called my equine vet to get her advice on Lostine's hip, and received a message that she would not be available for the rest of the week and I will have to find some other vet.  Awesome.

I don't trust a lot of vets because I've been burned too many times.  Lostine is putting weight on the hip and she's eating fine.  She's just stiff and off balance.  So, all I really want is some Banamine for the inflammation and pain.  However, since I have to call a vet who does not know me, I'll probably have to trailer her into a clinic for x-rays, and I don't want to put either of us through that.  Driving a horse that is in pain and struggling to stand square in a trailer at 55 mph down a freeway and then taking tight turns on city streets just seems cruel, especially in this extreme heat.  Horse trailers don't have air conditioning.  I know some vets can bring portable x-ray machines on ranch visits, but the way things had been going for me, I doubted I'd get that lucky.  So, I went to the feed store to ask what they have for pain and inflammation.  The clerk was so helpful and sympathetic that I almost asked her if she ever considered becoming a doctor.  Ha ha!

One of my frustrations with the doctor's office is that they shove all this paperwork at me and tell me to review it, which I can't do unless I have my reading glasses.  They get impatient with me when I have to dig through my purse to find my glasses, and they usually either order me to just sign the paper or they take it away from me before I can read it.   I used to keep a pair of reading glasses hanging around my neck, but can't do that anymore because of neck pain.  I really need to just get Lasik surgery, but my eyes haven't stopped changing yet.

Anyway, the lady in the feed store saw me struggling to read the label, and she read the whole thing for me and explained the dosage and ingredients in great detail.  She was even doing math for me.  It was rather refreshing getting such great customer service after a day of having everything else turn out to be a bust.

I've been so flustered that I won't be surprised if I see my own Silver Alert some day on a digital freeway sign.  When I was on my way to my doctor's appointment, I saw that my truck was almost out of gas.  I meant to stop for gas, but forgot and only remembered after I got to the doctor's office.  So, I told myself I'd get gas on the way home, and before I knew it, I was pulling into the garage and forgot to get gas once again.  Then when I was headed out to the feed store, I knew I wouldn't make it if I didn't get gas.  I got to the intersection where I should have made a left to get gas, and started going straight to the feed store.  Fortunately, my brain kicked into overdrive and I remembered to get gas at the last second.

At the gas station, I pulled up next to a pump, and realized it was the wrong kind of pump.  So, I pulled around to another pump, and realized that my gas tank was on the other side of my truck.  So, I pulled around again, and by this time the other customers were all looking at my like I was totally senile.  When I first pulled in, the majority of pumps were unoccupied, but by the time I figured out what kind of gas I needed and how to pull in with the tank on the correct side, there was only one pump left.  Then when I was prompted to input my zip code, I drew a blank.  I'm really scared that I'm not going to survive in today's society without a babysitter, because my memory is so bad, and with everything being a computer, the world revolves around PIN codes and passwords and security questions that I am incapable of memorizing, especially when I am distracted or under stress.

I did succeed eventually in getting gas for my truck, but then I lost my keys.  I was sitting in the truck digging around in the seats, my pockets, and my purse when I became aware that I was very close to losing consciousness because it was so hot inside the truck without the air conditioning on.  Kids and pets left in hot cars die on a regular basis around here, and now I was experiencing it first hand.  I jumped out of the truck and instantly cooled down, then found my keys in my purse.  It's probably time that I sew myself that organizer tote I've been designing in my head all these years, so that I can locate my keys and reading glasses much faster.  Society has already made it clear that they aren't willing to wait for me to get my act together.  I was half-expecting someone waiting for my gas pump to start honking at me.  Everything's a process when your brain is like scrambled eggs.

Oh Lord!  The doctor's office just called and said that my hip x-ray came back normal, but they said nothing about the knee x-ray.  He did give me a copy of a knee x-ray that said there was joint degeneration and water on the knee, and he kept a page that said the knee replacement was intact, so maybe there were two x-ray results instead of one and the one he gave me was actually my results?  He didn't reject my back x-ray results as being someone else's, and they said that my spine was degenerating and had water build up, so I guess back and knee problems are coming through as hip and thigh pain.  It doesn't make much sense to me, but I'm tired.  I don't care anymore, and obviously, nobody else does either, because no one at the medical clinic is trying very hard to get all of my correct x-rays and offer me a diagnosis or solution.  See what I mean when I say it is a waste of time to see doctors?

Situation normal:  All f'd up.

I know nothing more now than I knew a few weeks ago.  I'm still having my doubts that any of those x-rays were mine since the location where I have most of my pain came back normal, while two other locations where I don't have pain came back arthritic and inflamed.  But I've got drugs that help, so I guess that's all that matters.  I just find it weird that I seem to only get one or the other -- a diagnosis or a treatment, but I can't have both.

I did get the bill for my x-rays in the mail today.  I wonder if I should bother paying it since no one really bothered to get all the correct x-ray results to my doctor.  I mean, I wouldn't pay a sales person who didn't deliver my product, would I?  What a concept.

This guy's face says it all.

Toe the Line

This weekend was a struggle between the horses misbehaving, the dogs having accidents and getting sick, and me being the equivalent of a car up on cinder blocks.  I had zero gas in my tank and no tires.  I tried eating foods that would give me energy, taking vitamins and drinking coffee, but in the end the only thing that got me moving was an unwanted burst of adrenaline.

Here's an example of one morning I had.  Keep in mind that everything was happening very fast and I had little time to process all of it.  Plus I was still half-asleep and desperately trying to get back to sleep the entire time.

1.  Got up before sunrise, and took the dogs out to potty before I even had a chance to comb out the rat's nest on my head.  Hoped I wouldn't run into a neighbor.  Went to the barn to feed the horses and clean up manure before it got too hot and found Lostine limping.  Her hip injury was more serious than I thought.  I only had one dose of Banamine left and, with it being the weekend, I would have to pay for an emergency ranch visit if I got the vet out to prescribe more, but chances were that she was on vacation like every other vet around here who vacations in the summer to get out of the heat when the majority of his/her clients have done the same.

2.  In the process of trying to juggle a bucket of pellets and the jar of fly control powder, I dropped the jar and spilled the majority of powder all over the ground.  One more reason to not bother to fork out week's paycheck to buy any horse supplement in powder form.

3.  Went back into house after doing barn chores and playing veterinarian, only to find that a dog left the largest puddle of pee ever on the carpet right next to where I lay my head while sleeping.  It took half a roll of paper towels to soak it all up and no amount of scrubbing could get the stench out of the carpet.  (Once Midge and Scrappy pass away, we plan to rip up all the carpet and broken tiles, and lay down laminate flooring, but in the meantime, our house smells like a subway station in the summer and I do everything I can to discourage company from visiting.)

4.  Tried to wash my hands only to discover that the soap pump was out of soap.  Hunted around the house for either a new pump or a refill.  Woke my husband in the process of rummaging.

5.  Finally got a moment to pee myself and wash my hands again, only to walk out of the bathroom and nearly step in a fresh pile of dog poop right outside the bathroom door.  I was only in there for about 30 seconds, but someone couldn't hold it, despite me already taking them out a short time before.  It is not uncommon for me to have to hold my own bladder for the first few hours of the morning because the dogs cannot hold theirs.  They get to pee half a dozen times before I do, and the one time I try to sneak in a quick bathroom break for myself, I am left a big, steaming pile of crap as my reward.

6.  Tried to wash my hands in another room after cleaning up the dog poop only to find out that another soap pump was out of soap.  Wrote soft soap on the grocery list and found another refill.

7.  Took all the dogs outside only to have them do nothing, because they already did it on the carpet.  Tried to feed them, but all the Chihuahuas would do is fight over the food, yet not eat it.  Took their food away and told them to go lay down.  Gave Midge her insulin injection.

8.  Sat down to eat my own breakfast.  Scrappy sat down next to me and promptly vomited on the couch.  I tossed my breakfast in order to clean it up.  Gave up on breakfast and just took my pain pill on an empty stomach, which made me nauseated.

9.  The trash stunk of urine soaked paper towels, so I carried that bag out to the pickup bin.  Walked back inside, shut the garage bay, locked the door, only to have all the three dogs shaking their collars to say that they needed to potty... again.

10.  Opened everything right back up and took all three outside.  Pondered whether I should take Scrappy to the vet on Monday since he's peeing way more often, which means he may have another bladder stone.  Also, pondered when I would have time to get the equine vet out to look at Lostine's hip and prescribe Banamine, because of my own doctor's appointment scheduled right smack in the middle of the day that I was not willing to cancel, because I've been waiting all month for it.  I am constantly having to postpone my own health care because the dogs and horses have a 100% success rate in getting sick or injured right before I am due for my own medical appointments.

Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention that about 50% of the time when I took the dogs outside, either Stewie or Midge had a dingleberry stuck to his or her butt that would not come off for anything.  I had to grab a stick to knock it off, and if that didn't work, drag a reluctant dog into the bathroom to pull it off with toilet paper.  However, with my lousy luck, the dingleberry usually fell off somewhere in the house between the entry and bathroom and someone either stepped in it or ate it before I could clean it up.  Whenever the dogs eat poop, I usually have vomit in my near future, whether it be theirs or mine.

Then there was this other morning, which I will tell in story form instead of list form:  Rock and Gabbrielle always finish their hay hours before the two older horses, and then they stand in their stalls staring at the house, willing me to come out and release them.

I obliged, but left Bombay and Lostine locked in their stalls to finish eating.  Rock was adamant about standing at the gate to Lostine's stall in order to claim her leftovers.  Gabbrielle didn't like that, so she kept herding him into corners and kicking him.

I yelled at her, she stopped, only to start up again as soon as I went back in the house.  She put her ears forward and gave me her innocent face when I was outside, but the second I went inside, those ears were pinned back and she charged Rock.  I ran back outside and flung a rock, hitting a water trough, which spooked her, and that set her straight for a little while.

The dogs were pestering me to take them out to potty for the umpteenth time, and while we were out there, Gabbrielle had the nerve to attack Rock right in front of me.  During their scuffle, Rock banged up against the main barn gate and somehow knocked it open.  Either I didn't latch it properly because I was half-asleep, or Rock managed to wiggle it out of the latch before bumping into it.  Up until that moment, all I could think about was getting back into the air conditioned house and picking up where I left off in my sleep.

However, if I didn't react immediately to this latest predicament, (keeping in mind that my predicaments change from one minute to the next and I can hardly keep up with them all), I'd have a much bigger problem on my hands.  I ran the dogs back into the house, and ditched them with their leashes still attached, then ran down to the barn to shut the gate before the horses realized that it was open.  Fortunately, they were so focused on each other that they didn't see their chance for escape.

The whole time I was running around, I was thankful for the prescription medication I was on, because I knew that without it, I wouldn't be able to run at all, none-the-less walk without the help of a cane.

I knew that if I didn't do something with Gabbrielle, she'd be a terror to the herd the rest of the day, so I planned to lunge her in the round pen.  However, I first had to let Lostine and Bombay out of their stalls and clean up the rest of the manure.

I only had a few piles to clean up, but it took a ridiculously long time, because Gabbrielle kept running past me either to chase Rock away from some leftovers or to get into the stall I was cleaning to see if there was anything in the food trough there.  At one point, I let her eat leftovers out of a trough while I was cleaning and she spooked at something and bolted, side-swiping me on her way out of the stall at a gallop.  I was so angry at her for not respecting my space and putting me in danger that I chased her and threw the manure fork at her the way someone might throw a javelin, only I had the plastic basket facing forward instead of the handle end.

I did not expect to hit her, but the fork landed lightly on her back and rode her a bit, bouncing up and down like it was having a grand old time, and then it bailed off onto Rock's feet.  Both horses stopped and looked at me like they were asking what the heck that was all about.  I could have asked them the same.  I would not let Gabbrielle back into the barn after that, so the scenario went kind of like this:

Grab fork, scoop poop, throw fork and poop into wagon and chase Gabbrielle out of the barn.  Grab fork, throw it back down, and chase Gabbrielle out of the barn.  Grab fork, wave it in the air, and chase Gabbrielle out of the barn.  I gave up on cleaning and dragged Gabbrielle out of the barn via lead rope and halter, and lunged her in the round pen since she clearly was not respectful nor scared of me chasing her.  She could run in circles until she decided to follow my rules.

Once in the round pen, she was on her best behavior because she wanted to just get the session over with so that she could return to the barn to eat leftovers.  I even tried to make things harder for her by backing her around the pen with hand signals, side passing her with hand signals, and making her maintain her pace while pooping, but she did everything I asked flawlessly.

While I was lunging her, my neighbor's annoying grandson was hiding in the bushes in my back yard saying, "Horsey, horsey, horsey..." over and over in a mocking tone.  I couldn't see him, so I put my hands on my hips and glared angrily in the direction of the voice, and it immediately stopped.  I wished that my silent conveyance of raw anger could stop the animals from hassling me the way it stopped that kid from harassing me.  I knew I should have flushed him out of the bushes and delivered him straight to his grandparent's doorstep, but I already had so many things try to drag me away from dealing with Gabbrielle that morning that I was no longer willing to do anything but focus on getting her ya-yas out.  By this point, I had completely abandoned the idea of going back to sleep.

I lunged her until she had sweaty white foam squirting out from between her butt cheeks.  Then I cooled her down and locked her in her stall for several hours to give the other horses a break from being bullied and beat up.  However, without having Gabbrielle in the mix to keep them in line, Rock and Bombay began play fighting and trying to rip each other's fly masks off their faces, which really pissed me off because I've already spent a fortune on fly masks this summer.  I've had two brand new fly masks get destroyed in less than a day.  So, out came the rock scoop and slingshot.  They stopped, only to start up again as soon as I walked in the house.  I then ran out and flung rocks at metal objects until they separated.  I decided that if I caught them doing that one more time, I was going to lock both of them in stalls on opposite sides of the aisle where they couldn't reach each other.

The good news is that all the dogs and horses usually take a siesta in the middle of the day and early afternoon, so I did get to relax, but only when they allowed it.  Then late afternoon came, and the insanity started all over again.  Summer is synonymous with chaos for me.  Because I can only spend a few minutes at a time outdoors before heat illness symptoms set in, I have to break up my barn chores into several small increments throughout the day and night, and everything has to go like clockwork.  Of course, it's doesn't go like clockwork, so there are days when I never finish cleaning up manure or dog poop, or the horses don't get groomed, or the horses don't get their supplements, or the injured horses don't get their cuts treated.  I'm always having to sacrifice something.  I miss the cooler temps, when life is so much easier.  Summer is just about trying to survive, and practicing as much patience as possible, but I'm not very good at either.