Last week I was driving around to feed stores in search of some kind of salt or mineral block that included fly control. Surprisingly, no one carried anything like it. I finally found a 120 lb. tub at a tractor supply store. I paid about $65 for it, figuring that it would last until the end of summer.
The label says it is intended for use with beef and dairy cattle, but the sales lady assured me that she's given it to her horse for years and never had any issues. She was a very strong woman. She insisted on loading it into the bed of my truck by herself. She heaved it up, but fell a little short, so I grabbed it and quickly shoved it onto the tailgate before it fell and shattered in the parking lot. "It's a lot heavier than it looks," she said.
That was when it hit me that I had no way of getting it out of my truck once I got home. I had to leave it in the bed of my truck for several days until someone was around to help me unload it. My husband was out of state on business, so I kept an eye out for my neighbor, but he was gone all week too. P.S. came by one morning and we each grabbed a side of the tub to get it out of the truck and into the barn. The horses descended upon it like it was candy.
Technically, they are supposed to lick it, but Rock is an animal when it comes to food. I suspect that before I owned him, he was fed nothing but hay, because whenever I provide him with vegetables, grain, pellets, treats, or licks, he cautiously approaches, sniffs, and then tries to consume them in one bite. He was putting all of his weight into biting the sweet cake and managed to bite a hole into the thing.
Gabbrielle refused to share and pinned her ears at any gelding who came near it, so I chastised her. If she still didn't share, I'd chase her off, but then Rock would take over, pinning his ears and biting any other horse who came near the tub. I knew I couldn't stand out there all day supervising and teaching manners, so I moved the tub into a location where horses could not pin other horses against railings.
After just two days, this is how it looks...
Cloud sitting in the mountain after a storm...
She said it looked like he was lame on his left hind one day and his left front the next. The lameness was fairly obvious, yet I couldn't pinpoint which leg or hoof was the problem. It was definitely on the front on this particular day, but he displayed a lack of willingness to put weight on his right front when walking straight, yet stumbled a lot more when lunged in a tight circle to the left or counterclockwise, which would suggest that it was the left front.
We were feeling him up around his shoulders and spine, lifting his legs and picking around on his hooves, but could not find a consistent sensitive spot where he offered a repetitive pain response. We kept brainstorming possible causes, but no theory really made sense. I originally suspected a hoof abscess, but she had been taking measures to prevent thrush and abscesses that should have been effective. I told her that if he was worse the next day and there is still no visible swelling anywhere, the increased pain should make it easier to determine which hoof is the culprit, and then she can treat it with a poultice.
The other mystery we were trying to solve was that her horses were fine when she turned them out at dawn (minus the lameness), but when we returned a few hours later, they both had marks. One gelding had a bleeding jagged cut in the inside of his hind leg, while the other had chunks of fur missing in different places, but the skin was not broken. She asked the barn owner if she witnessed them play fighting or anything. All she saw was one of them scratching his butt on a bush. That would explain the bleeding, jagged cut.
The neighborhood was busy with lots of people out doing yard work, caring for horses, and there was a construction crew next to the dry lot erecting a block wall. Both horses seemed more curious about all the activity than scared. The Arabian was watching the construction workers' hats bobbing up and down behind the block wall just a few feet away while we were working on his legs, and he didn't move a muscle until asked. The other gelding was craning his neck over the railing to watch people do barn chores. It seemed like it would take a lot to spook them, so I doubted they got into wrecks from spooking. The missing fur looked like skid marks, as if the horse fell and slid or perhaps rolled in a rocky spot. I know bruising will sometimes cause the fur to fall out and leave the skin intact.
Anyway, they were fine. It was just one of those challenging mysteries that drives me crazy and I have to solve it. Every once in a while someone will say something to me like, "What's the name of that actress who was Miss America and then wasn't Miss America..." and in my brain I'll be picturing a face, but her name keeps escaping me, so I will actually go through the whole alphabet hoping that one letter will stand out and I'll remember her name. I'll obsess over it for days, and then about a week later I'll blurt out, "Vanessa Williams!" But by then no one knows what I'm talking about, so there's no point in celebrating the sudden revival of my brain cells. I'm that way with mysteries. I won't let them go until they are solved.
P.S. showed me a trick her Arab does where he makes a clicking noise with his mouth three times and then sticks his tongue out the side of his mouth. It was hilarious. We were laughing, cheering and applauding him, so he kept doing it more. It's one of those things where you kind of have to be there to get the full effect of the humor, but I did get one goofy shot that I love with my iPhone, despite not being able to see anything on the screen without my reading glasses.
By the time I got home, it was raining. I really didn't want to ride by myself in case my leg locked up and I needed help dismounting, so I lunged the horses the following day after the rain, and the ground was wet enough that the horses kept losing traction, sliding around, slipping and falling. I had to wrap it up before someone got hurt. By the time the ground dries out, it will probably be too hot to do much of anything. Oh, the woes of summer.