A Horse of a Different Color; Mud.

It’s been raining here and in the river valley, rain means one thing; mud. I left two semi-clean white horses on Monday evening with their buckets of goodies in their dry stalls and returned Wednesday morning to a pitiful sight.

My poor Gemini stood at the back corner of his stall with a small pond between him and his breakfast. To make matters worse, he has an abscess pushing its way through the central groove of his frog. The abscess appears to be draining and he is sound on which is better than it could be, so I’m trying to be patient while we wait for our farrier to return on Monday. However with all that I’ve been through with the two of them and thrush, and especially my struggle with Rapture’s hooves this past spring it drives me batty to see my horses stand on anything but dry dirt. So the bailing of water and filling of dirt ensued immediately.

After completing the morning chores of water filling, peacock feeding, and doctoring of a few ranch horses, my boys went into the roundpen where the footing was decent enough to play. And play they did.

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They went through their normal routine of rolling on both sides before running and bucking, and then played “tag” for a while. Whenever the wind blew hard enough to rustle their manes, they were off again, running and bucking.

While they competed to see who could get the dirtiest, I began bailing buckets of water out of their stalls. Gemini’s stall was the third most flooded but I didn’t get a photo of his. I did get a shot of the two worst stalls.

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Ah, the joys of being in a river valley.

Anyways, the property owner who leases to us, Jim, lives in the front half of the property. While talking about adding dirt to a stall of his, I mentioned that I was just thinking I needed to get some dirt on my horses’ stalls. He not only offered to give me some of his dirt from his private stash, but he even brought it in on his tractor and all for free. He really saved my butt that day, in several ways. But we will get to that later.

After he dumped in the dirt, I spent the remainder of the day leveling and packing the stalls down, knowing full well that it would rain again before the dirt had time to really settle. Still, any little bit that it helped would be worth it.

I’m very blessed to have such a generous boss who allowed me to borrow some mats for their stalls. I tried to strategically create a high point at the front of the stall and then cover that area with the mats so that they could stand under their shelters on dry ground. Especially since sometimes the people who feed will leave their hay on the ground, I wanted the area where they stand to eat to be as dry as possible.

We were in the home stretch, just finishing the last bit of Gemini’s stall when my shovel slipped and made contact with the PVC pipe for his automatic water. Below the cutoff valve. The pipe began spurting water like a fountain and, with all of my hard work at risk, I ran frantically through the ranch in search of the main shutoff valve. I found one but it was for the wrong part of the ranch. I ran screaming through the ranch (again) this time, back to the pipe to try to catch some of the water in a bucket and toss it in the other direction while yelling to my friend to go find Jim. Eventually, Jim shut the water off and came to inspect the damage.

Daylight began to fade as he explained what needed to happen in order to fix it. He cut the pipe and refitted it with a new sleeve, and then allowed me to feel like I did something by letting me sand the rough edge of the pipe before he put the pieces back together. I fed the horses while everything dried and thirty minutes later, it was as if nothing had happened.

At the end of the day my horses, as well as myself, were coated in mud. However their stalls were in slightly better shape, so it was all worth it. Now, I’m impatiently waiting for the rains to stop so I can begin preparing their stalls for the rest of the season. Also, the waterproof sheets and blanket liners that I ordered were placed on back order which was disappointing, so we are waiting for those to be shipped. My plan is to pack as much dirt in their stalls as possible and then start bedding them with some shavings that the feed store sells that’s extra absorbent and at that point, plus the blankets, they should be so bubble-wrapped that neither of them should ever have a damp hoof again, right?

Yeah right. A girl can dream.

I don’t know what I would do if we lived somewhere where it snowed in the winter. They’d have box stalls with heat lamps….and padded walls….

Anyways, if all goes well the ground should dry up and the farrier will be here soon so I can start treating Gemini’s hoof.

Until then, stay dry everyone.

P.S. This was the result of my mud wrestling. My pants were not that tan color when I started.

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