Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Update Snippets

The Paranoia Sets In:

Over the past few weeks I have been hearing large packs of coyotes howling around my property, so I'm being more careful about checking what is around before leading the dogs outside on leashes.  Coyotes usually run from people, but I've seen some of them act bolder.  I've seen some stalk the dogs of hikers on the trails.  I don't trust them.

I also found out that a man in a local photography class got bit by a rattlesnake while on a field trip last week, so that means the snakes are coming out even though it seems too early and not hot enough.  Last week I heard a rattle when I was walking to the feed shed.  I ignored it because I figured that I just brushed up against one of those weeds that rattle.  However, upon coming out of the shed, I realized there were no weeds around, so the rattle had to have come from a snake.  It must have ditched under the hay barn when I went into the shed.  So, that means it is time for me to start paying attention again, and be hyper-vigilant about where I put my hands and feet.

When I take the dogs out at night, I turn on all the lights so that I can see both snakes and coyotes clearly.  This morning I walked all three dogs out through the garage and startled to see a coyote on the driveway just about 20-feet away from us.  I took it by surprise too, so it ran across the street.  None of my dogs reacted, which is amazing.  I think they were all still half-asleep.  But then about a minute later this bunny came bolting across the street and down my driveway with the coyote in hot pursuit.  I didn't want that coyote anywhere near my dogs, so I said something to it in a menacing tone, and it ran back out into the desert.  I'm sure if the bunny could have thanked me, it would have.

More Supplement Experimentation:

I had a number of supplements and grooming products that I was running out of, so I made a trip to the feed store to see what I could get.  My biggest struggle over the past several months has been to use supplements that help my horses put on weight, but without making them more hyper and spooky.  I figured out which products are great for putting on weight and narrowed it down to the least expensive option that also supplies the horses with other benefits.  So, in addition to their grass hay, and mixed hay pellets, I'm keeping them all on Safe Choice Sr., even though I only have two senior horses.  At the same time, I wanted to research calming solutions, because I'd feel better about training my horses from the saddle to accept all the activity on the trails if I knew that they could keep a level head and not just spin and run from whatever worries them.

I remember when I lived in Nevada, I could ride Lostine past all kinds of trail traffic by myself.  She did balk and run backwards at times, but I knew I could easily get her out of reverse and get her past the scary objects without having to worry about my own welfare.  Bombay, on the other hand, needed to be drugged with calming supplements and I always had to have someone on foot nearby to grab his lead rope in case he had a full on panic attack and bolted.  He didn't jig much because those trails were steep, but now in the flat desert, he can easily jig for miles when he's nervous, and I have to cling tight with my thighs or all that bouncing will pop me up out of the saddle and put me off balance.  Of course, clinging tight with my thighs is counter-productive, because he feels my muscles tensing up and that just convinces him there really is something to be scared of.  I used Calm and Cool back then, which is now called Divine Equine.  It worked, but only seemed to take the edge off.  Then I found out that I was supposed to be pairing the pellets with the paste, which I wasn't doing.

So, today I went to the feed store with a list of calming products I wanted to inspect and get the staff's opinions on.  It turned out that they had nothing with magnesium as its main ingredient, but one staff member recommended Mare Magic, which is raspberry leaves.  She said it has made a difference with her mare's moods.  I explained that I would be using it for a gelding who just gets nervous, distracted, and spooks a lot.  She said it should work for him too.  We will see.  I bought it, because it was affordable.  So many of these calming products cost around $70 for a little bag.  It's ridiculous.

I asked why they had me pay taxes for my hay, because I don't think any other hay outfit has charged me taxes recently.  The owner explained that growers do not have to charge taxes on hay, while retail stores do.  Also, the purpose of the hay plays a role in whether it is taxed.  If the hay is going to either cattle or horses going to slaughter, they consider it a part of the food chain, so they don't tax it.  However, if the hay is going to horses that people keep as pets, competitors, or transportation, then the hay can be taxed since those animals will not be eaten.

So, I learned something today.

Getting Busy:

I was hesitant to sign up for that photography class since I was already taking kick boxing classes and had a lot of writing projects in the works.  The class itself was three hours a week.  I decided to take a trial run and see if I can even get all my barn chores done and get myself fed, showered, and dressed before the first class.  It was touch and go.  Things kept coming up and I began thinking I'd never make it out the door, but I did make it to class.

Once in class, I discovered that future classes will actually be spent on all day field trips.  My heart sank.  I could only give up 3 to 4 hours a week.  I can't just drive 2 hours to some location in order to get their by sunrise, take several hours of morning shots, stop for a lunch break, take several hours of afternoon shots until it gets dark, and then drive 2 hours back home.  I have animals I have to feed and take out to potty throughout the day.  Their vets just put them on a diet of more meals more often and prescription dog foods.  I have insulin shots to administer at the same times every day.  I have horses I have to lock up when they eat, and cut them loose to get their exercise the rest of the day.  

So, I told the instructor that the best I could do is to be gone from my house for no more than 4 hours at a time.  If we were on a field trip close to my home, I could just drive home to take care of the animals, and then drive back to the photo shoot location, but she says all the best locations are hours away.  I told her I had animals to take care of.  She said, "Oh, I have one of those.  I just get someone to let him outside."

I didn't respond, because my situation is clearly more complicated.  Everyone I know works during the day and can't help with that, and I'm not going to give a stranger the key to my house.  I also don't trust anyone else to have the expertise to care for a diabetic dog.  A little too much or not enough food or a little too much or not enough insulin, and all hell breaks loose.  Vet hospital bills are major financial setbacks.  Midge sometimes has seizures, and there's an art to pulling her out of them.  So, I'm probably just going to do the best I can.  I may simply refuse to travel some long distances, and promise to do my homework closer to home on my own.  Sometimes my pets can feel like a ball and chain, limiting my freedom, but it's the way I like it.  I get way more pleasure out of them than I do traveling.

Between that problem and a certain student in my class, I almost dropped the class all together.  There is this woman who I've had in previous photography classes who repeatedly rubs me the wrong way.  She's one of these know-it-alls who insist on teaching the class and not letting the paid instructor get a word in edgewise.  I am paying to learn from the instructor.  I've seen her artwork, and it is wonderful.  I want to pick her brain and learn her methods.  I've seen this student's work and haven't been impressed.  She may be able to memorize aperture, shutter speed, and ISO combinations, but if her photographs aren't anything special, then she needs to shut up and let the instructor do the teaching.  She even had the nerve to cut off another student's question by telling her to go look it up in her camera manual.  Fortunately, the instructor was kinder than that, and helped the woman figure out the answer by playing with her camera.

I think if I had to sit in a classroom for three hours a week with this obnoxious student, I probably would have dropped the class, but since the majority of our time will be spent in the field, I can just ditch her like I did on our other class field trips and go commune with nature.  Although, I suspect that's how the man in the other class got bit by the rattlesnake.  He was hiking further out alone to escape her overbearing personality.

I've also got a lot of other things going on.  Apparently, the dogs are due for vaccinations because the vet's office has been sending me reminders and calling me.  I vowed to only use that inexpensive clinic for vaccinations in the future, so I need a day in which I can wake up at 4:30 AM to get the dogs there by 6:00 AM, which is their only check-in time.  They spend the rest of the day doing surgeries.  I also have to get some blood work done that requires fasting, so that's another early morning appointment.  The horses are due for hoof trims, and my farrier is an early morning kind of guy.  My husband's birthday is coming up.  Let us not forget taxes.  It's time to meet with the tax accountant.  Yeehaw!  

Among various errands, chores, appointments, and writing projects, I'm hoping to fit in a short, half-day trip to the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show.  So far, not a whole lot has been cooperating with me because it seems that unexpected tasks keep coming up every minute.  At any rate, I've been busy and it looks like I will be busy for a while.


Grey Horse Matters said...

It does sound like it's hard for you to leave home for any length of time. I'd say just do the best you can and stay away from the student who annoys you.

Not good to hear the snakes are out already, be careful. I hate those things. The coyotes around here sometimes get a little too close for comfort too. Even if you shout at them they look at you like "yeah, so what, I'll leave when I feel like it."

lytha said...

I've always used canola oil to add fat without making a horse hot. I wonder if you've considered this.

I cannot get anything resembling Mare Magic here, no idea why. All the magnesium supps have sugar in them, lots of sugar. I'm at a loss.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

lytha - I have not thought about using canola oil. I know they have oils they sell in the feed store, but I've never looked at them, because it's just more preparation time. Most days I can't even clean up all the manure because preparing the meals takes so long and I run out of daylight or have to go somewhere. I didn't know the magnesium supplements have sugar in them either. Seems like that defeats the purpose. I get shaky when I eat something sugary.

Horseyhabit said...

Have you tried ground flax seed for adding fat? My friend & I have had good luck with it on our horses without ramping up the hyperness. :)

Also, I've got my Arab gelding on the raspberry leaf, & I think it does really help level him out. I'm lucky that he's pretty easygoing to begin with, but I like him even more on the leaf! You can get it on Amazon cheaper too,

Good luck! :)

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Horseyhabit - I haven't tried straight ground flax seed, but most of the fattening products I've tried included it. It's good to know that the raspberry leaf works for your horse.

Mrs. Shoes said...

I second the good experience with canola oil. Effective and CHEAP (one thing that supplements are not).
Also works for my min pin -- she is too high energy to get fat, but her skin gets dry & flaky without the oil added to her food. Our shepherd too has the glossiest coat since my childhood dog (who had a daily breakfast of stolen eggs before I got to the hen house).

If you have any interest in another viewpoint regarding supplements, visit Dr. David Ramey at

I would be interested to know how other people feel about what he has written re: supplements.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Mrs. Shoes - I read his articles. All I can do is speak from experience. When I lived in Nevada, I had top notch hay and I could get away with feeding the horses nothing but hay twice a day and they had perfect body conditions. My hay farmer used to say, "This hay is all your horse will ever need in his diet." It was true.

But last year's hay in Arizona was so lacking in quality that despite giving the horses free choice hay all day and night, they were underweight. My horses ages ranged from 7 to 26 years, and they all were showing their ribs. Since putting them on high fat supplements, they are now back to a healthy weight and have some meat on their bones.

I think for the most part Dr. Ramey is right to be skeptical about the effectiveness of supplements. They certainly aren't worth what we are paying for them. But sometimes drought conditions, poor soil, and poor farming practices result in large regions supplying cruddy hay, so I'm glad we have supplements as an option.

achieve1dream said...

Wow it seems really early for snakes (of course we have snow on the ground lol). Be careful!!

That's interesting about the tax on the hay. I guess that makes sense and that's probably how it works here too, but nobody bothers asking if it's for horses or cows and if they are pets. Weird.

Wow you are busy! That lady in the photography class sounds incredibly annoying! How rude! I hope you can avoid her. I also have my fingers crossed you get to go to Scottsdale at some point.

Animals do feel like a ball and chain sometimes, but they are so worth it. I don't blame you at all for not trusting someone to take care of Midge. Insulin and seizures are tricky.

Senior feed won't hurt Gabrielle. :) I have only tried oil once, but it was such a pain I only did it for about a week so I don't know if it would have made a difference. It's so messy and some horses don't like it. That's why I prefer the Empower Boost. It is expensive, but it's so clean and easy. I did rice bran and it was okay, but it blows away unless you wet it down (I get tired of wetting food down in the winter because I have to carry water) and it gets everywhere. I loved feeding flax (can't find it anymore), but I did it for coats and hooves, not weight gain. I have no idea if it would work for that. I hope you find one that works! I'm interested to see if the raspberry leaf works for Bombay. I never thought about using it for geldings, but I've heard it makes a huge difference for mares. Fingers crossed!