Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Gabbrielle Needs a Change of Shorts

Yes, that's "a change of shorts", not "a change of sorts".  You know me.  I have to tell the whole story.  It all started when Lostine began limping regularly.  The farrier assured me that she didn't have an abscess, but considering all the cracking and creaking in her knees and hocks, she probably has arthritis.  I ordered some MSM with glucosamine chondrontin and have been waiting for the delivery.  In the meantime I've been feeling her pain.  She motors all over the place despite it, but is always gimping about.

She really needs a soft place to stand and lie down, and I couldn't give it to her until I got all the rocks out of the barn and paddock.  I finally finished raking the last of the rocks out of the barn this weekend and am starting on the paddock, but clearing a 100x140' arena of rocks is no easy feat.  I figure it will take months.  It had already been graded, but there's only so much that a tractor can do.  The rest must be done by rake and hand.

My original plan was to clear the rocks and then bring in a bunch of dump trucks to spread it as they dump, but if I jump the gun and do that now, it will just make getting the rocks up that much harder.  So, I decided to compromise and just get enough for the barn aisle and stalls, so that Lostine can have a more comfortable space in her old age.

I looked for companies that deliver sand and dirt in the local horse magazine, but many of the advertisers were not very close to my home.  I've learned that distance makes a difference in price, because they have to cover diesel.  So, I researched companies on the Internet until I found one in my own neighborhood.  I called them and the guy who answered had a thick accent.  I was struggling to understand him.  I asked what people in my area use for ground covering in their riding arenas.  He said its all over the map, and he listed off different options.

I said, "Do you carry decomposed granite?"

He said, "We carry ????, which is just like it."

I asked him to repeat what he said and it still sounded like ????.  I gave up and said, "I'll take 14 tons of that."

I asked them to call me before they arrived, so that I could move the horses out of the paddock into the stalls.  He assured me that someone would call.  I waited and waited for the call, and then realized that I had to move my horse trailer, because it was blocking the gate.  I raced around taking care of that and decided to just feed the horses in their stalls and lock the gates to each stall once they were in.

Gabbrielle got locked in, then Bombay, but as soon as Lostine got wind that she was about to be locked up, she bolted and refused to eat.  Because I had moved the horse trailer, she thought I was going to put her in it, and this was her way of protesting.  The trucker hadn't called yet, so I went back in the house hoping Lostine would get hungry, go back in the stall and eat, so that I could lock her in.

I had my head stuck in the washing machine when the dogs started barking.  I hollered at them to be quiet, but they wouldn't settle down.  I looked out the window and saw the truck out front and the driver looked like he was leaving.  Crap!  They said they'd call first, and of course, he just showed up and knocked on my door and got my dogs all riled up.

I ran out after him and said, "You guys were supposed to call when you were ready to deliver!  I still have a horse I need to put away."

He handed me all these papers to sign and gave me very specific instructions on how to fill out the check.  I said I'd have to go back in the house to fill out the check, but first wanted to show him where the stuff should be dumped, and get my last horse put away.  We walked out back, and he was opening the paddock gate to see how wide it would open while Lostine was not locked up.  I asked him to close it so my horse wouldn't get out.  He did, and went back to his truck while I tried to catch Lostine with a halter and lead rope.

I was racing to catch her before he drove the truck down and completely freaked her out, but he was faster than I was.  He was roaring down the driveway while I was trying to get the dang halter fixed, because it was inside out and all tangled with the lead rope.  I threw it on her, lead her into the stall, locked her up, and then opened the gate for the truck.  I guided him through, and then ran to the house for the checkbook.  He wouldn't dump the stuff until I paid him.  He also wanted to verify that he brought the right stuff.

He said, "You ordered ???? ?"

"Can you repeat that?"

"???? ?"

"I don't understand."  His accent was as bad as the accent of the guy on the phone, only a completely different accent.

"???? ?"

"Look, I don't know what you are saying, but I asked for the closest thing you've got to decomposed granite."

He nodded and smiled.  "This is it."  Then he showed me the piece of paper and I discovered that what he brought was called "Walker Gold 1/4" Minus".

He said, "You just wanted enough for the barn, right?"

"Right," I said.  "Should I order the same stuff for the riding arena when I'm ready or is there something better for that purpose?"

He said, "No, this is perfect."

Everything was cool with the horses until he raised the bucket, and then they all started spinning in circles and screaming.  Gabbrielle ran back and forth between the stall railings, crashing into them with such force that the blow was actually pushing the set of five railings several inches out from where they were set.  She was smashing her legs so hard against the metal that I was terrified she would break a leg or two.

The truck continued to make screeching and banging noises, each one escalating Gabbrielle's violent reaction.  I was trying to calm her and pet her, but she was completely out of her mind.  Then when the stuff slid out of the bucket onto the ground making a hissing sound like a snake, she pooped in her shorts and tried jumping the railing.  The bucket lowered and the tailgate slammed closed, making her jump straight up in the air.  When the truck driver left, she was soaked through with sweat and heaving to catch her breath.

Fortunately, all the horses settled down pretty quick and went back to eating.  When they were done, I let them out to inspect their fresh mound of gold gunk and discovered that now I have two lame mares instead of just one.  Gabbrielle's front legs had rust marks from where she kept jumping into the railing and one hock was cut up a little.

This is what I'm talking about when I say that for every solution to every problem there are new problems.  After a while a person becomes paralyzed over making decisions because she knows there will be a negative consequence for every choice to go along with the positive.

I thought Bombay would be the first out to play King of the Hill, but Lostine inspected it first, then Gabbrielle.  Bombay just kept eating.

I was disappointed by how little 14 tons turned out to be.  $385 for that puny mound of dirt, and looking at the way she's favoring that hind leg I may have a vet bill on top of it.  I don't even want to know how much it will cost to cover the entire paddock.  When the time comes to dump the stuff in the paddock, I'm going to arrange to move the horses over to my neighbors' barn.  I'm not taking anymore chances, even if it is helping desensitize the horses.  Desensitizing isn't worth beans if you end up with a lame horse.  Although leading the horses off our property onto a new property will probably turn into even a bigger fiasco.  The only way to get from here to there is to walk them across crunchy pebble driveways.  Oh well, I guess I'd better get started training them to walk on that.

I remember the first time I walked Bombay on concrete.  He heard his own hoofbeats and reared up in fear, then scurried around trying to get away from the noise and sparks were actually flying from his hooves.  I've heard other people ride their horses on my driveway and it's very loud.  Their hooves sink deep into the pebbles.  It's like sticking your hand in a bag of marbles, so I'm sure that new sound and sensation will cause some kind of ruckus with the younger ones.

If only my fearful horses and neurotic Corgi were like Scrappy in a thunderstorm:  Just snoozing.  I love my old, little black dog.  He could teach the world a thing or two about keeping one's cool.

Just don't knock on my door, though.  He'll chew his way through it to attack anyone on the other side.  Best watch dog in the world.


Dreaming said...

I'm so sorry that your horses reacted that much to the noise. Those big trucks have all kinds of sounds that they make!
I, too, can't believe how little tons of dirt/gravel/???? is when you see it in a pile. It makes me realize how much people invested in deep footing in arenas.

Mikey said...

Poor kids! I forgot how loud those trucks are. That sand will go a long way, you'll be surprised. It's my horses favorite place to roll and sleep at night. I think it will help.

Camryn said...

Been there done that with dump trucks. Even my normaly unflappable Haflinger has a difficult time dealing with them.

Paint Girl said...

Oh yes, the good ole dump trucks. We have had numerous dump trucks driving in between our pastures for the arena. The horses always run around at first, then they just stand there and watch. But we always have so much activity with tractors, UTV's and such that I think they are pretty used to loud noises. I am actually surprised how my new Mustang filly has done with loud noises. She is more scared of humans then heavy equipment. Which is good! But we are getting a dump truck of gravel delivered soon and she might not like that so much. I will be a nervous mom out there watching her like a hawk!
Hope Gabbrielle heals up soon. Poor girl.

fernvalley01 said...

My stock are so used to tractors and loaders quads etc,not much spooks them with things like that, but sneak up on them with a quiet stealthy red SUV(mine Rav4)and Dang!!!!!

ryde2rope said...

I have used a company called www.http://ridorock.com/.
Their screening process begins by reconditioning your existing material removing debris and rock to a size of 3/8s minus. In a one pass operation the material is screened to a desired depth of 6 inches or more which creates a rock free base. After screening we harrow the arena so it will be perfect for horse and rider to go out and ride without risk of getting injured. I have used them as have many others I know.

Anonymous said...

Cold water hosing a couple of times a day will help the soreness and help keep the wounds clean. Have you though about rubber mats inside the stalls? Don't know if they would stay in place but you could pull the ones out of your horse trailer to try it. Even if just until she's not limping anymore. Good Luck. Love hearing your stories. Your luck is so much like mine.

Cut-N-Jump said...

Might have been better off just leaving the horses out. They would have run for the far end of the turnout and stayed put, just not to be around the noisy truck.

Venice turpentine on the bottoms of the hooves will help toughen them up and maybe bring them some relief until you can get the 1/4 minus where you want it.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

ryde2rope - That is awesome! I was just thinking how stupid it is to have to remove rock just to bring in ground up rock, and wondering if anyone has come up with the idea of just grinding up the rocks that are already there. I'll definitely contact them.

Anonymous - I really dislike mats. Bombay has thrashed so many of them. He enjoys tearing them up at the seams and shredding them. My horses are not normal, so every choice I make cannot be the obvious choice. I'm forever working around their destructive behaviors.

CNJ - That would have worked if the truck driver was willing to just pull forward, dump it, and back out or back in, dump it, and drive out, but he needed to drive around the entire perimeter to turn around. The ground was muddy and he could only get himself unstuck if he was in drive, but not reverse.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Oh my! It's no wonder you get all stressed when trying to decide what to do with or around your horses. Poor you! My previous horse was highly reactive, too. I'm so glad she's living in a new home now and I have my mellow, laid back, go-with-the-flow Apache mare. I ride her on deep gravel roads, on asphalt and concrete and over all sorts of boulders, rocks, and rugged surfaces, and she just takes it all in stride.
I can't imagine having to cover my entire 2 acre paddocks with decomposed gravel...or have to pick out all the rocks and boulders, yuccas, cactus and trees, stumps, etc etc. And since most of the trails I ride her on are rough and natural like our paddocks, she had better just get used to them. She has her stall which is lined with soft decomposed granite and several spots in the paddocks that have become her soft napping and rolling places, though.

I was thinking the same thing when I saw that little pile of gold dirt and was thinking about the large indoor arena I rode in a couple times this week. The sand is very deep and soft...must have cost a fortune to fill up that space. eek!

Well, hopefully this new gold stuff will help ease your girls' aches and pains and make the more comfortable.
My mare has been on: http://www.horse.com/item/select-the-best-legacy-pellets/E004141/
since April because of the arthritis in her shoulder. It has made a world of difference in her comfort level and being able to carry me for 6-10 mile trail rides and be able to trot and canter comfortably.
Thankfully, my local feed store, just 3 miles from my house, carries Legacy, which saves me the shipping costs.
I read an article lately that said something like 80% of horses over the age of 12 should probably be on a joint supplement.
It sure makes a difference for my hip displasia and creaky knees. So, both me and my horse are feeling much better now :)


achieve1dream said...

Awww poor Gabrielle!!! I really hope she is okay.

Chrome didn't want to walk through the pea gravel I got for their stalls when I first got it, but with some coaxing he quickly got over it and had fun playing in it lol.