Friday, July 1, 2016

Sweet Cake Mineral Tub and Other Sweetness

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...

Lostine is the only horse who Gabbrielle will allow to step in and help herself...

It's nice to know that each horse in my herd has at least one horse that he/she respects.  Lostine and Gabbrielle are also the only horses to have intact fly masks after Hurricanes Rock and Bombay blew through.

Cloud sitting in the mountain after a storm...

P.S. and I had planned to go horseback riding, but the horse she wanted to ride went lame and she didn't want to ride her other horse, because taking him away would have caused the lame horse to run around and possibly injure himself further.  I had yet to meet her new Arabian gelding, so I offered to go to her stable to see if I could help diagnose the cause of lameness.  In the end, I think I just added to the confusion.

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.

He's an entertainer at heart.  Good, sweet, kind, and gorgeous too.

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.


Jen said...

Now you see why I feed mine as a supplement and not free-choice (it was the ultimate king-sized candy bar at our house). *laugh* Tractor Supply will special order you a Rabon block, you just have to ask them to. I leave mine out on the patio in a big rubber feed tub and scrape it as it softens with a hoof pick (that I bought for that purpose) then scoop the shavings into a food-safe container I keep in the feed room. It's a little annoying, but totally worth it for the fly control it offers. I ran out the week before last and they didn't have any so they ordered me one. In the week I had to wait, the explosion in the fly population was AWFUL. Reminded me - not that I needed it - that it was totally worth having in our daily regimen.

I've noticed that our horses (particularly the girls) seem to understand laughter and take it to mean they should repeat whatever they just did. Sometimes I really wish I was constantly "rolling" with the video to capture whatever the horses did today (then, of course, I realize that most of the footage would just make me look like an idiot - so it's probably just as well there ;o)

I've learned to check everywhere for lameness - a pulled shoulder muscle from a "stupid step" or a hard slip with an awkward recovery that yanks/hurts the hip doesn't always show anything or necessarily bring heat. A sore back can also cause strange-looking symptoms in the legs. Those things are a whole lot trickier to find. Rina had a tiny little ding on the front of her toe at the bottom once that took me forever to find. You wouldn't think something so small would be much of an issue, but it was really bothering her.

It's been too hot to do much of anything with the horses since the very beginning of summer here, so I'm digging around in the dirt and playing with plants instead :oP

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Bombay was whinnying at me during his dinner, and spinning in circles in his stall, so I let him out, and he chose to lay down in the arena rather than eat. This is the first time he has ever colicked. Of course, it had to be on a Saturday night going into a three-day holiday weekend when I'd be hard-pressed to even get a vet out here on an emergency call. First thing I did was remove the mineral tub, which they ate down far enough that I could drag it by myself. That's the only thing that changed in his diet. Fortunately, I had one dose left of Bute. He's back to eating and feels better this morning.