You’re in big trouble!

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So Rapture decided that he would like to make himself permanently lame. Maybe it’s because he’s so spoiled any time he has an injury. Regardless of the reason, he got in big trouble yesterday morning for trying to start a fight with a horse that is bigger than him during his turnout.

Now, just to clarify I really don’t recommend that you turn your horse out when they have a suspensory injury because they can potentially hurt themselves if overexerted. However, my horse is typically such a giant baby and soooo lazy that he will simply roll and then stand in a corner if turned out by himself. I have to turn both boys out together or else they will only stand there and stare at me. Even when turned out together, they both go straight for a dirt bath, then visit the horses by the rail and then wander around, groom each other and sniff whatever poop they can find until breakfast time when they meet me at the gate to go back home.

I’ve been putting standing wraps on Rapture as much as possible (as long as I will be there to change them within 12 hours) and it has REALLY helped with the swelling! So we’ve stuck with our routine of morning turnout, then a standing wrap during breakfast and then changing it at dinner time. Occasionally we will go for a cold rinse if there is much heat, but there really hasn’t been since the swelling has decreased. So, I was off of work for a day so he went 24 hours without a standing wrap. Suddenly, his leg is swollen again.

Aurgh!!!

As I fetched them for their morning turnout, I neglected to notice that there was a new horse in the row (well, he’s not new, he’s been there before but not in a while) and Rapture wasted no time pointing it out as soon as we got in the arena. He was anxious to get his halter off, which is odd because he’s usually very patient. Then, he sped over to the rail and put on his best “I’m the boss around here” act with his neck curved as they sniffed noses. The horse he was investigating is a 17-18hh Warmblood who is about 5 or 6 years old. They sniffed and snorted, and the Warmblood, Bill, gave Rapture a playful nip. That’s when everything hit the fan. Rapture began his hoarse fight-screaming and threatened Bill by attempting to paw the rail…with his swollen leg.

I yelled at him, which distracted him enough to get him to walk away for a second, check in with Gemini and look as if he had given up. He stood there and stared at me for a long moment, as if to say, “What, mom, I’m just playing…” I fell for it rather naively and walked away to get the hose so they would have some water. Directly after my back was turned, that little brat sauntered back over to Bill and started angrily pawing/half rearing and trying to pick a fight with the giant horse.

I yelled at him again but he ignored me, of course. I ran and grabbed his halter, slipped through the fence and whistled for him. He looked at me, walked about four steps toward me, stared, then flipped his head in the air and proceeded to trot circles around me. If you don’t know what the head flip means, let me explain it to you the way it was explained to me, because we saw this a lot with the Arabians I used to work with. When a horse flips their head in that circular rolling flip thing, it’s pretty much like flipping you the bird.

So, Rapture pretty much gave me a big, “Haha, f*** you!!”

Flustered, I tried to at least block him from running everywhere until he would stand. After a nerve racking few minutes, he let me catch him. His punishment was having to walk around with me while I did the morning chores and occasionally stand tied to random things. I’m taking this to mean he isn’t very uncomfortable because he sure is itching to move around since he spent the whole morning nearly running me over.

On a completely unrelated note, my mini-me is totally adorable…

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Defying the Flying Pests; Kool Coat Review and September Update

If you’ve owned a horse, or ever even been near one, you know the struggle against flies is real. Depending on your area and climate, that struggle may extend to gnats, no-see-um’s, mosquitoes, and a plethora of other winged and non-winged bugs. Regardless of the enemy you face, you must keep your arsenal fully stocked.

Unfortunately, however, horse ownership has a way of leaving you with empty pockets. I’ve never heard of someone who enjoys purchasing products for a horse that they can’t be sure will actually do anything, and if there is someone like that out there, you’re welcome to come hang out with my horses.

I have a few updates on the progress of our struggle against the bugs here in southern coastal California. First, apparently I was not the only one in my area to purchase the “Kool Coat” sheets. I bought mine from Statelinetack.com and they were very affordable. I took pictures of them so that you could see the fit as well as what they look like when you first put them on and then a few days afterward.

Here is Rapture’s sheet after I’d just put it on for the first time. So clean and white…

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Here’s Gem’s sheet that had been on for a few days. He really loves to roll in his shavings, so it’s got some stuff stuck to it. Gem has swayback so you can really see how the sheets shape to the horses. I bought him a 72″ even though he’s more like a 70″ because it needs those extra inches to conform to his spine and not pull anywhere.

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First of all, let me say I was very impressed with the quality of these sheets. However, I believe it is rather inaccurate to advertise them as a form of fly control. Saying that this is a fly sheet is like saying a waterproof turnout sheet is effective at protecting your horse from the UV rays. Yes, the sheet certainly does that, but it seems like it was intended for much more. I’m not saying it doesn’t protect against flies; I’m only saying that it is not constructed like a simple fly sheet. It is not mesh, it is not screen, or anything like that. It is a sheet, somewhat like a dress sheet. Although I only caught my horse sweating underneath it once in 95 degree weather in a very small spot where he most likely would have been sweating anyways, I am always concerned with over-blanketing. That said, I definitely do believe that these sheets are well ventilated, effective in protecting your horse against UV rays, dirt and insects, and do not tear easily.

One thing that really impressed me with these sheets was the construction. I could leave them on for over 24 hours, sometimes 2 days in a row if I didn’t make it out to the barn, and my horses did not have rub marks. They are generously sized and really fit my horses well, even my Arabian who has swayback and has a hard time with proper blanket fit. The wither area is really well designed to contour better and do less damage as far as stress and rubbing on your horses’ necks and withers. The straps are great, stitched with better planning than I’ve seen on some other blankets, and I really appreciate the rear leg straps (I hate tail straps with a fiery passion). I wish it had more than a single buckle and strap as the front closure across the chest, but it doesn’t effect the performance at all. Lastly, but certainly not least, these sheets have held up very well and I haven’t had a single tear or pulled stitch, even though my horse has nearly pushed through an entire pipe corral panel with it on and incessantly rubs against his automatic waterer.

A few cons that I must add;

If there was anything bad to say about this sheet, it would be simply that the crossing belly straps seem to be stitched onto the sheet pretty far back, as in closer to the back legs rather than being in the center. But I haven’t had any problems with legs being caught or any of that. Also, these sheets are a tremendously poor color choice. As if white weren’t bad enough on a horse (though I can understand how that would keep them cooler), it has this ugly grid pattern that reminds me of doing my math homework on graph paper. I feel like I should be designing a building or something every time I look at them. Not only that, but the white gets very dirty as is to be expected. I have yet to wash them to see if any of the grime will come out.

So that’s it as far as the Kool Coats go. If you’re wondering how things went with my test of the effect of Garlic on flies, I didn’t really notice a difference until I stopped feeding it and noticed that my one boy’s legs are getting bitten much more. I will be buying him fly boots for his front legs because that is the only area being bothered. I started feeding him garlic in his grain after we ride, but since it’s not daily it doesn’t seem to be working so well. I definitely think that feeding garlic helps ward off flies but I do recommend that you feed 1/2 tablespoon at least every day.

Also, my overall favorite fly sheet is still the Shire’s sheet that I bought, which Rapture destroyed like three days later. If I ever see one again, I’m buying it on the spot.

These are the only photos I got of it before it ripped into shreds…

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What else….

I am still loving Bronco fly spray, both the regular and the Gold. I definitely see a difference with the Bronco Gold though. If you aren’t sure whether or not the Gold is worth the extra money…the answer is yes. This, in conjunction with Swat ointment, is my anti-fly lifeline.

Back to Square one; Suspensory Injury

Pretty Boy

I guess my first mistake was getting comfortable with the idea of having a sound horse. Rapture and I had been doing lots of work in the arena, riding about four times a week for short periods of about 45 minutes; 15 minutes of groundwork, 20 minutes of a warmup, practicing transitions leg yielding, me working on my half seat, and then about 15 minutes practicing going over a cross rail about 18″ (easy for him), before our cool down. It had been hot and I wanted the exercises to stay interesting and fun for him, so I never pushed him much even though he has much more endurance than that. He had really taken a liking to jumping and I was impressed with his focus. I decided to look into getting ourselves some proper tack since he was getting into it and we had been borrowing a few things from some very kind, helpful and generous friends. I found an ad for a tack lot on craigslist that was such a blessing from God. It had everything I needed and some things I wanted, and the price was unbeatable. In addition to that, an old friend had some open front boots she’d been holding onto and offered them to me for only $20.

Yay, horse stuff!

I think I jinxed myself. The lot came with a bunch of standing wraps, quilts and pillow wraps. I remember thinking, “I won’t need these for a while, so I’ll pack them away real nice where they won’t be in the way.” Yeah right.

I was so excited to try out the boots I’d picked up from my friend. They are leather Equisport custom boots with real fleece wool that had belonged to a Grand Prix rider and I wasn’t sure if they would fit. I had a pair of open front jumping boots for the front and leather and ankle boots for the back.

Equisport Custom Open Front Jumping Boots and Ankle Boots

I had also purchased a Kimberwick online because I’d really taken a liking to the one on the bridle I’d been borrowing.

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I packed up my new bridle, halter, jumping boots, polo wraps and the package containing my bit. To my dismay, when I was checking out everything in my new bags of horse junk, I found one of the polo wraps was missing. I checked everywhere but it was nowhere to be found. Everything else, I put away in my storage boxes in the garage. The next day I woke up to a charge on my credit card that I hadn’t been expecting. It had overdrafted my account and I ended up just having to pay it and get over it. I tried to get into a better mood before I got to work. When I arrived at the barn, after doing the morning chores, I cleaned out all of the useless stuff in my tack room and put up my new bridle hooks that I’d made.

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(Each letter features something that has to do with horses. The L has a horse eye in the bottom loop, the O has tiny horse heads, the V has a head and a tail and the letter is the body, and the top curve of the E is the front half of a jumping horse)

I mounted my bridle hooks and organized all of my horse stuff so that I could easily get to everything I would need. I planned on working more on flatwork to gain muscle and balance. Then, we would go back to jumping once I knew his body was in better shape for it.

It was all downhill from there. When I went to retrieve my old man, Gemini, he was off on his front right leg and it was a bit warm. He got a cold hose and a handwalk, and the day off. I pulled Rapture out and, to my dismay, his leg was swollen, warm and he was a bit lame. He too got a cold hose and handwalked. He was eager to move around so I don’t think he’s very uncomfortable, but never the less, I wrapped it and put him back.

I assumed that he had either kicked himself or possibly hit a rock when we’d been out on a “relaxing” ride on the trail the weekend before. He had been doing very well and was getting a bit excited at the trot, rushed into a canter and stumbled. I dismounted, checked his hoof for a rock and walked him home. He had been out for a while and I figured he was getting tired anyways. He seemed to walk it off on the way home and I hosed his legs, checked before putting him back in his stall and everything seemed normal.

The injury is in the lower part of the suspensory, seemingly the branches, and it’s pretty hard so I think he whacked it pretty good. I was scared that he may have really hurt it so I had a few people check it out.

Then, I opened my bit and decided if I couldn’t ride my horse, at least I could put my new bridle together…

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That doesn’t look like a Kimberwick to me…

Frustrated, I had to laugh…out loud…hysterically… This day was beginning to give me an eye twitch.

I emailed the seller immediately and kindly informed him that the bit I received was not the same bit pictured in the ad and asked if there was a way I could exchange it for a kimberwick, to which he responded that they only sold one bit and they pulled the picture and description directly off of the supplier’s website.

More hysteric laughter ensues.

So now, I have lost a lot of money, two lame horses and a bit I DON’T want. I had texted the seller of the bags of horse junk and the polo wrap was MIA. To make matters worse, there was nothing to do at work to distract me.

I took deep breaths until I thought I might pass out, prayed for peace for a few hours and decided to look on the bright side. Winter was coming and I really wanted to see Rapture put a bit more weight on. This would be the perfect opportunity to focus on packing some extra pounds onto my boys. I could also take this time to just enjoy being with them without stressing about their exercise schedule and what we should be working on in the saddle. Also, God had delivered plenty of standing wraps to last during this time and I had really helpful people around with lots of knowledge and experience. Not to mention, an awesome vet who is always around and willing to answer questions and check on things when I’m being over-paranoid, who never makes a big deal out of nothing and is always free to give advice.

Now, I’ve embraced this season of rest and reflection. Not only that, but we are never short of horses to ride, and I recently discovered that I really love one particular young off the track Thoroughbred who has some needs that are just up my alley and very loveable; Moose!

It’s been a little over a week and things aren’t changing too fast, but I’ve been riding Moose and keeping myself busy with work and home stuff. There are lots of things I’ve been putting off and have been too busy for, so I’m starting to focus on. I’ve also been looking back at some photos from our adventures.

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We got lost one day on trail and found a long bridge between us and home. He couldn’t have cared less about crossing the bridge, even with cars whizzing by, and he walked the entire way home. I was so proud of him.

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Moving around comfortably in our weird Wintec Aussie saddle. I think I have the strangest tack on the ranch, and we always get weird questions about our stuff, but we find what works for us. As long as he is happy and comfortable, I don’t care what we look like.

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He was doing so well that he even stepped in on one of my lessons and took very good care of my student. She loved him and he couldn’t have been more well behaved. He is an amazing teacher.

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Warming up before free jumping, before he got all dusty.

Since they can’t ride, the boys have been going out in the arena for turnout in the mornings. They’re pretty lazy and won’t even move around unless they’re together. Even when they are together, the most they do is flirt with the other horses and roll in the dirt. Nothing makes a better morning routine than drinking my coffee and watching my boys roam around.

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Review: AJ Tack Wholesale and products

If you’re anything like my online-shopping-addicted self, you know the struggle of staring at your virtual shopping cart and wondering if those purchases are worth the money you’re paying (even if it is “10%, 15% or %20 off plus free shipping and free gift and whatever other offer they’re teasing you with). So I decided to start a category for reviews of my horse products that I purchase so that others can find a detailed, reliable review before they buy and hopefully help others know what to expect from the products they purchase.

This review will just be for the products I’ve purchased from AJTackWholesale.com and their Ebay account,” Wildwest88″ in the past and just recently.

My very first purchase from AJTackWholesale was from their Ebay account. I won a bid on two of their English saddle blankets, one is black with white and blue-purple trim and the other is the same style, but in burgundy and with no trim. I believe I got them for $10 plus shipping (which they combined and was very affordable).

These blankets are true to the color you see in the photo and are very good quality. The stitching and dye has held up well through the wash as well as being drenched in sweat by my horse several times. I picked the dark colors in hopes that they would stay cleaner and they did. They are very thick, definitely thicker than some of my other brand name saddle blankets. They have a bit of shape to them in the wither area and form well to my high withered horse. They are big enough to fit under my 17″ all purpose English saddle with an inch or so on either side. I was very pleased with these blankets, especially considering that I got them so cheap. But I would definitely go back and buy them at the full $17 again if I needed more blankets, and I plan on doing so when that time comes.

My next order from AJ Tack was another eBay win. I bid on 8 grooming items;

I also purchased a light weight summer fly/scrim sheet from their eBay account. It cost the same on eBay as the website, but the shipping was free when purchased from eBay. (You can find my review/comparison of this fly sheet in another post [CLICK HERE])

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The hoof picks are definitely good quality and true to the color in the ad (not so much in my crappy cell phone picture). I fell in love with my friend’s Wahl hoof pick and I like the thick handle in other hoof picks similar to this so that’s why I decided to bid on it. But I never expected that they would be so sturdy. The metal rod of the pick runs all the way through the handle so it’s nice and strong, and I don’t feel like this hoof pick would bend a lot. This is certainly comparable to the quality of the wahl hoof pick. But on the other hand, the Wahl hoof pick is only $5.99 which is $0.99 more than these ones and I’d still prefer the wahl hoof pick.

EDIT; After use, I discovered that these hoof picks do bend pretty easily and I was not very impressed overall. If I had the choice again, I would buy a Wahl hoof pick.

As for the other brushes, after testing them out a few times as well as using them for a week with a horse summer camp. I’m pleased with their ability to withstand use. My favorites are the two curries. I love the “soft” curry for bath time and the “hard” curry is my favorite brush, probably ever, because it has this amazing ability to get out mounds of hair at once (my horse is getting Biotin and sheds a lot). Also, my horses seem to like the massage effect that the thick bristle thingies have…sort of…

As for the others, mane and tail combs are just about average, nothing special but no issues. I don’t particularly care for the straight sweat scrapers; I always prefer the half-moon shaped ones and I still do. But I like these sweat scrapers more than other regular/hard plastic ones.

 

 

 

Review: Equerry’s Products

I haven’t been big on reviewing things via internet in the past, unless the product was horrible of course. Have you ever gone to a tack sale, garage sale, swap meet, or some other shape or form of place where you buy people’s unwanted junk, and found some awesome horse thingy that still has the tags on it? Why is that? I mean, how could you buy something for your horse and not use the crap out of it until it’s barely held together anymore? I certainly don’t have the sort of expendable resources that would allow such a thing. But after buying numerous products online, I’ve come to the realization that it can be a real gamble to do so. I’ve gotten really lucky, but lately there have been a few things that push the envelope and if it hadn’t been for some online reviews, I would have wasted a lot of dough.

But sometimes, you just can’t find enough information on an item, or you don’t know what the circumstances are for a negative reviewer. What if they are just stuck up or their horse is really destructive, or they used the product wrong, or so on? So I’ve decided to begin recording some of my purchases and reviewing some things so that others might have some peace of mind. I thought about doing this in categories, such as a post for all supplements, a post for all horse wear, a post for people-wear, and so forth, but I decided that short, individual posts would probably be better for others looking for a specific product.

So, the first one that I have to review is the Equerry’s supplements I purchased after a lot of consideration. I had originally ordered the Equerry’s Economy supplement from my local feed store but when they put in their order, they shipped the wrong product and ended up with Equerry’s Complete Rx 4-way, which I was also considering trying as well. I ended up taking it as a sign from God and forking over the cash to give it a try. But then, Bubba had to be put on a really strict diet and I put off using it for a month.

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In the mean time, the feed store reordered and I picked up the Equerry’s Economy supplement. I had already been feeding my older horse, Gemini, some Biotin and MSM, but when I added in the Equerry’s Economy supplement I saw a change almost immediately. He began playing around like a young horse again, kept on weight really well and his overall health improved. He was able to take on a bit more exercise and still be comfortable. All of a sudden a few weeks later while I was waiting for him to dry after a bath, I turned around and realized his coat had gotten much more radiant. Before starting Equerry’s Economy supplement, he had such a thin coat after shedding his winter fuzz that I thought he had rain rot; you could see his skin through his coat in some places. Now, his coat is very soft and still a nice short, tight length but a lot thicker and way more shiny than ever before. I think the best part about it is the affordability. This supplement includes a wide range of beneficial things but is very affordable; one bag is almost three months worth. You can find it really cheap if you spend some time searching online. I got it at my feed store for about $25 I believe, give or take a few bucks.

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When I started Bubba on Equerry’s Combined Rx 4-way a few weeks later, I saw similar results. He’s really bulked up and a lot of his health issues have begun to dissolve. I started him on U-Guard to help with his digestive issues, but I’ve been weaning him off of it because it seems that the Combined Rx is enough on its own to support his digestive system. He no longer sweats excessively and doesn’t plow through two mineral/salt licks a day since using this product and upping his lbs in hay per day. He drinks plenty of water and “passes” his hay regularly, with no colic or other issues even in high-stress situations. He has been eating almost 100% grass hay and does very well with this supplement. I’m very pleased with the improvement I’ve seen in him and I will definitely be purchasing this product again. I also am now a strong believer in this company’s worth and I’d recommend their line of products to any horse person I know. Even though this product can be a bit pricey at around $70, considering the range of ingredients I’d say it’s worth the cash.

I DO suggest that you look around online and call your local feed stores to see where you can pick up this product the cheapest. In my experience, feed stores tend to jack up the price (except the one where I bought mine) and you can usually find them $5-$15 cheaper online. The website I’ve linked to is NOT the cheapest price (actually the most expensive online price I’ve seen) but it has the full product description, ingredients and such so that’s why I linked it.

Seraph in Raptures {Bubba’s Update. Plus, name criticism/advice please!}

Choosing a name is no easy task, especially if you’re like me and you’re big on the meaning of names. I had a bit of “divine inspiration” that brought about a name which I think I may stick with for my big sweet boy. It’s a bit unusual but it holds a lot of significance for me and it’s growing on me day by day.

Sunday was an exciting day for us. After a whole week away from my boys at the horse summer camp, I was finally able to get them moved down to the new ranch. As if she hasn’t been a big enough blessing already, not only for her amazing personality and sense of humor as well as so generously working things out so that I can move my lessons down to her ranch, Jess even drove her own truck and trailer up to the old ranch to pick up my boys, helped load my hay, and drove the whole lot down to her ranch for simply the cost of gas.

While we are in this season of “new and better things,” I’ve been searching for the perfect name for “Bubba” and I’m pretty serious about renaming him. I don’t have anything against the name itself but I feel like he’s just too energetic and graceful to have such a common, slow-poke appropriate name. Plus, he is the horse I’ve been waiting for my whole life; he deserves a more respectable name. But when you’ve called someone something for so long it can be kind of awkward to stop.

Everyone who sees him is captivated by him. He is sweet and loving, sensitive, but also fiery and full of life. He is tall with unique conformation and moves almost like a gated horse, with an incredible trot that has several speeds. He is brave and fast; I often tell people, “if Prince Charming rode up on a horse, he would be the horse.” Someone recently suggested that I name him something that had to do with his regal look and the graceful way that he moves. I liked their name suggestion (Regal Action) but didn’t feel that it fit him well, however I did like the suggestion to name him something regal and graceful. I also wanted to name him something that referred back to God because I believe that he was brought into my life for a purpose, certainly not by accident.

I had a bit of “divine inspiration” while driving in my car. I had the word, “Seraph” stuck in my head and I knew that it was a synonym of angel or archangel, which means messenger of God. Suddenly, it came together; Seraph in Raptures. Once I’d gone home and done a bit of research, I realized how perfect it was.

A seraph is actually a Hebrew word meaning “fiery serpent,” and is used to describe a high ranking group of angels with six wings that fly around the throne of God, worshiping him eternally and singing “Holy Holy Holy.” That in itself is pretty epic.

Most people have heard of the term, “in raptures,” usually used to describe someone who is overwhelmed emotionally or infatuated by someone or something. The actual definition is, “ecstatic joy that carries someone to another place or dimension, or a state of lofty emotion; the act of carrying off.”

It has a connection to God and an awesome meaning that describes his movement (carried off in joy) and I can call him Rapture for short, which I think is much more fitting than Bubba. So I’m still rolling that around in my head.

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“What do you think? Do I look like a “Rapture” to you?”

The first day went well; the boys got a thorough scrub in the new wash rack, munched on some grain while they dried in the sun and were fitted with their new duds (fly sheets and shoulder guards) plus new stalls with automatic waterers, fresh dirt and shavings.

The next day, I took “Rapture” out for a ride and we ended up down at the beach. He went through a narrow trail with a tarp hung on the fence and trees beside and above the rest of him, crossed two bridges, rode beneath several helicopters, around lots of other horses, and straight into the water. Even though he wanted to trot the entire time, I was still proud of him for being so willing despite all the new obstacles. The scariest part of his day was the camel… There is a baby camel on the property, named Moses, who must just be the weirdest creature he has ever set eyes on because he doesn’t seem to know what to make of it. It seems like every time we pass the pen, he just gets more and more weirded out. Moses, on the other hand, seems to find it hilarious because he gets all excited and runs around when… “Rapture” snorts and tentatively tries to sneak a peek through the fence.

I was worried about how… Rapture’s hooves would do after such a long ride, but I was pleased to find him sound the next day with only a little sensitivity. The softer, riverbed-like sand seems to work well for his poor feet. He only has trouble here and there when passing over the hard parts with some scattered stones. He has no trouble at all in the arena or roundpen which is deeper dirt/sand with some rocks mixed in.

His front hoof sole is abnormally flat and sensitive, and I am considering putting front shoes back on to help ease some of the discomfort. With the soft sand around here, his frog will still have plenty of stimulation because the sand will fill the hoof and put pressure on the frog as he walks. His hooves have been getting stronger and chipping less, but I have a growing suspicion that he has white line disease and that makes me a bit wary of nailing shoes into his hoof wall and trapping/covering the infected area. I’ll be having a second farrier check him out just to get a second opinion from someone that Jess knows and trusts, but that has to wait until I have enough money….

Well, off to shower before my baby girl wakes up from her nap!

Defying the Flying Pests (Plus, we’ve moved!)

We’ve moved! So long to east county and helloooooo west coast! It’s all very exciting and terrifying at the same time. I hate the unsure part of a transition period, but I know it will be worth it in the long run. The horses are now about two miles from the beach which means cooler weather. But it also means more flying pests, particularly mosquitoes. I’ve invested in a few insect defense options and I’ll be keeping a close eye on the progress.

If you’re knee deep in your search for the best solution to a pest problem, I’m sure you’ve heard of feed-through fly control. If you haven’t, it’s a supplement that is supposed to deter flies from the inside out. I tried SimpliFly pelleted fly control and I am pleased with the price considering it has lasted well for my two horses. I wrote a bit about it in a previous post. I did notice a pretty immediate lack of flies on his poop within the first week. However, there were still flies on him. It has been a few weeks now and I can’t say for certain if the flies have since become less attracted to my horses themselves. I cannot find anything that indicates that this feed-through fly control is actually intended to repel flies from the bodies of the horses themselves, and I don’t believe that it is supposed to. I would highly recommend this product to someone who is planning to feed this product to all the horses on the property. I think in that case that the product could do some serious good. However, considering there are lots of other horses at our new ranch, I have a feeling that this product is not going to do my boys much good.

I tried spraying a few concoctions on my horses from a whole plethora of things in one bottle to just one or two things at a time. As far as a homemade remedy….nothing really seems to have done any good.

I tried apple cider vinegar with dish soap and peppermint, melaleuca, and lavender essential oils as well as some garlic salt because I didn’t have powdered or crushed garlic, and slathered it on my horses religiously.

I also tried plain apple cider vinegar, or manna pro equine fly spray concentrate with apple cider vinegar instead of water.

I tried a variety of ratios of Manna Pro equine fly spray with water all the way down to the straight concentrate.

NONE OF THESE WORKED.

Manna Pro equine fly spray makes a great coat conditioner but does very little else. Apple cider vinegar makes the coat crunchy. Moral of this story, don’t waste your time or money.

So that’s all very disappointing. On to the next…

I bought three fly sheets….

#1. Saxon Softmesh Combo Fly Sheet (with neck cover) in “Rust/Frappe.” Size 81

#2. Shires fly sheet (grey with blue trim, two buckles and velcro in front, crossing belly straps and single rear leg/under tail strap) in size 81

#3. Light weight summer fly sheet in size 66

If you are buying any fly sheet, I recommend that you purchase a shoulder guard. I will reiterate this several times to anyone that I talk to who is looking for a fly sheet. I had never heard of these before but I will never go without one again. I bought one for the Saxon fly sheet because many reviewers mentioned that it moves and rubs. I did not, however, purchase one for the “light weight summer fly sheet” for my other horse because I forgot. Two days later, he had big ugly bare spots on his shoulders. I immediately removed it and found a “Jammies” shoulder guard at a resale shop for $8 and it was worth every penny.

#1. The Saxon fly sheet runs a bit small and is not contoured for horses with high withers or other “shapely” features. The neck portion is a bit looser than a normal horse and would probably fit snugly on a horse with a slightly cresty neck on the smallest position. The straps are a velcro cinch-type of closure so they’re somewhat adjustable. One thing that I did NOT like about this fly sheet was the back/under-tail strap. It’s a piece of rope with two loops on either side. How cheesy is that? Not to mention that the rope was so long that I was able to cut it in half, sew on loops behind the belly guard and create crossing straps for between his legs. Also, like many others mention in other reviews of this blanket, it does shift to the left side where the buckles are due to the weight, and it will rub your horse’s shoulder after longer than a day without a shoulder guard. However, I have to give this fly sheet credit since my horse did manage to snag it within the first five minutes. Even though he did successfully rip a considerable hole in it, it held up pretty well and there were no other incidents for the few weeks that he wore it, even when a piece of his pipe corral came dislodged and was hanging partway into his stall and I’m sure he was close enough to it to do some damage.

#2. I bought the Shires fly sheet in place of the Saxon because it was on sale at my tack shop for $30 and I kicked myself for a week for walking away from it the first time. SO, when I went in to pay for my new saddle and it was no longer outside I was disappointed, but soon found it in the back corner and snatched it up. It fits him great and does move around a bit but tends to go back into place. There is a bit of satin behind the buckles but not enough to protect the full shoulder so I still recommend picking up a shoulder guard even with this fly sheet.

#3. The Light Weight Summer fly sheet from AJTackWholesale.com also seems a bit small and does rub without a shoulder guard, but other than that I like it. It’s effective for the money. Nothing fancy, no UV protection or anything like that. It definitely will not repel against mosquitoes out here (they’re vicious) and it has bigger holes in the mesh. I will be investing in a more effective sheet when I can afford it but I’m happy with this one for what I paid.

I decided to try out Bronco e Equine Fly Spray with citronella and luckily found it on sale at a local tack shop. I haven’t hardly seen a fly on my horses and no bites so far, but they’ve only been there three days and it’s been sprinkling so I’m not sure if that’s a fair trial period. I love the spray nozzle on this (32oz) bottle! It is so nice to spray, sprays straight, thick but not clumpy or drizzly and very fine despite dispensing a lot of fly spray at once, and it doesn’t leak all over your hand. It also made my horse’s coat shiny and smooth which is always a great plus, right?

I am also testing out the effect of Garlic on fly control. I have some powdered garlic that I am sprinkling on grain and feeding to my horses. Bubba eats it without a second thought, but Gem seems to pick at it unless there is a lot of grain and a little garlic. We will see!

So we’ll see how this all pans out…Now I’m off to write up a quick update for my big sweet boy.

 

 

SOMETHING worked! I’m just not sure what…

Well I can’t lie, after getting the O.K. from our trimmer to try and get a saddle on Bubba again, I was very discouraged by his reaction. The first ride was absolutely dreadful. Feeling defeated, confused and at the end of my rope, I untacked, apologized and put Bubba back in his stall. We had worked so hard to figure all of this out and yet it seemed that nothing had changed. Was it all a waste? I felt like the tiny world of knowledge that I’d found support in had just vanished into thin air and I was floating through space without a single hope to grasp hold of. My horse was still broken. All the effort and faith I’d put into all of this hadn’t seemed to have made a difference at all.

Later, after talking it over with a few people I came to the realization that he’d been standing for over a month being spoiled like a giant lab dog. Not to mention, he’s a bit of a drama queen. I began to gather a bit of hope about me, and after a little break and a heck of a lot of prayer, I tried again. This time, I really began to watch him. Was he really in pain or was he just mad because I was putting something on him that may have caused discomfort in the past and, being the smarty-hooves that he was, he just hadn’t forgotten about it yet?

I also had to remind myself that this horse was wonderful and magical and all that jazz before, but he was far from perfect. He had always acted up when I gave leg cues and especially if he’d had stomach pain why wouldn’t he still do the same if not be even more wary of it now? He doesn’t know yet if/that he’s been healed just like we don’t. So with that in mind, we pressed on.

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It’s been a little over a week now since we started Bubba on U-Gard and Simplifly. Yesterday, I walked into a local tack shop and was met by a Wintec Aussie saddle (older model, no CAIR, no interchangeable gullet) with a very promising looking gullet width and nice thick panels that look like they’d distribute my weight very well. It was also at an incredibly low price and very well kept. The shop keeper let me know I could try it and bring it back if it didn’t fit. They also had a veeeerrryyyyyy nice fleeceworks dressage pad that fit the saddle well and was discounted tremendously because it had a rip in it. I figured, “what have I got to lose?”

Now I’m already a believer in Wintec. I love their stuff, moreso their English saddles than western saddles. This saddle is like a dressage saddle with some mouse ears and extra rigging dees attached. I personally love it but I think you’d need to already like Australian saddles or be used to the mouse ears before you might love it, as others are not so thrilled. Fleeceworks, on the other hand, I always thought was a bit much. I have the cheaper imitation half pad for my All Purpose saddle and I like it very much. This fleeceworks pad has changed my view completely. My horse did not sweat excessively under this ridiculously thick pad. I could also feel how cushy and thick it was even through the pad. Actually, my horse didn’t sweat hardly at all. And that’ saying something for him because he used to just pour sweat until his blanket was soaked and his girth was all crusty with salt.

I was in love with this saddle the moment I sat on it, but it wasn’t about me. This was about Bubba. He was very concerned but still willing to try and allowed me to put the saddle on him, check it for a good fit, slowly ease the girth up and check it again, and then walk him around, and check it again…and again before I mounted up.

(I feel the need to mention that he has a pretty nasty thrush attack in his two front frogs and his soles are exfoliating, but after cleaning them and putting his boots on, he began to move waaaaay more comfortably)

Once we had his Boa Boots on…oh man… I fell in love with my horse all over again. He started out with short, stiff strides and then began to relax, drop his head and sighed several times. He listened very intently, turned and stopped easily, and began to just float around as if walking on clouds. I gave him a break, some water and a bit of a snack with some Bermuda pellets to help ease the stress of any acid that might be in his stomach, then we continued from the roundpen down to the arena. He walked around with a nice low head, didn’t give me much of a fuss about anything except a few stops at the gate which were quickly dispatched. The first time I asked him to trot was such a disoriented mess that I thought his legs might just fall off, but after a few transitions from walk to trot and back and forth again, he began to smooth out. By the end of the day, he was going through his transitions so smooth, responding to just calf pressure (I can’t really reach his sides with my heel because the fleeceworks pad is so thick, but he doesn’t need it), and I could get him to do his “Grand Prix” slow trot as well as a nice smooth working trot and even a canter, which was weird at first but also smoothed out. Now I know I can make him sound like the perfect horse via internet so I have to say there were some rough spots in between. Horses rely so much on us for balance and Bubba is one horse that will show you just how much that’s true. If we went into a trot or canter in a weird way, he would get clunky and disoriented as if he was falling over, or he would tuck his head and pick up his hind end just a little to tell me I was asking him something that he thought was dumb, but for only our third ride after this long and frustrating journey, I couldn’t be more pleased with him.

Needless to say, I will be purchasing the saddle and continuing him on U-Gard as well as bearing down on his hoof treatment again and always riding in his boots.

As for the Simplifly, I didn’t immediately notice a lack of flies, but I did not notice a swarm of flies either. Neither did my close friend who feeds and helps clean the stalls. After that day that I realized there was no swarm, I began to pay more attention to the number of flies on him and his manure. There have been almost zero flies on his manure as well as Gem’s but there have still been some flies on the horses. Still, the number of flies has gone down and I definitely think this product does something…but I think this would be much more effective for a horse owner who has all their own horses on the property, or even several owners if they were using the product simultaneously. I think the key to success is that everyone feeds it to their horses. But since I’m the only one who is using it right now I think that plays a part in the results. Still, the product goes a long way and I definitely think it’s worth the money.

Defying the Flying Pests; Search for the Ultimate Fly Annihilator

It began as a gentle bothersome buzzing, a mild annoyance, a brief and momentary irritation. It grew in proportion at an alarming rate as I realized the sheer numbers of pests that began to swarm the soft chest, sweet eyes and poor sore legs of my beloved horse. I’ve never fought so actively to eliminate flies before, but then again I’ve never dealt with a horse who is so attractive to them nor one that I care personally and tremendously for. But these suckers are resilient!

Let me start this off by saying that the normal grade fly sprays do nothing for me. The concentrates do nothing, even if you mix them stronger. I’ve sprayed them on nearly every day and the most I get out of it is a nice shiny coat. That’s great that it will make my horse pretty, but I wanted a fly repellant not a beauty product…

Within moments the flies are back. Well, the definition of crazy is to keep repeating something and expecting different results, so I’m trying something new. I’ve searched several homemade fly spray remedy recipes and wrote down a list of the many ingredients.

  • Apple Cidar Vinegar/White Vinegar
  • Vodka
  • Dish Soap
  • Garlic (fed through)
  • Citronella
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lavender essential oil
  • Melaleuca essential oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Lemongrass

And so on.

I took this list and walked around my house collecting everything I could find on the list. I got out my spray bottle and rinsed it, filled it with 20 ounces of Apple Cider Vinegar, dripped in 20 drops of Lavender and Melaleuca oil, spilled the Peppermint everywhere so I don’t know how much of that got in there but I sure smell good, added a squirt of dish soap sufficient to bathe a small horse, added garlic salt since we have no garlic and it couldn’t hurt, and shook everything up. I can’t wait to test it out tomorrow, it smells like some sort of terrorist chemical bomb or something so I’d say it should have plenty of kick to do the job. So this will be my first experimental batch. Wish me luck!

Light and Shadow; Bubba’s Update

I just spent an utterly ridiculous amount of money on horse junk. I literally struggled for days, I want to say over a week, on whether or not to hit that purchase button. Not only that, I paid the trimmer that Tuesday and had the Vet come out on Thursday. I don’t know if you’ve ever clutched to your budget so laboriously that you could barely pry your metaphorical fingers apart after the financial stress began to be relieved. Coming out of this season of…I don’t want to say struggle because a struggle to me is tooth and nail, barely able to eat, choosing between risking your car running out of gas and the lights going out, but coming out of this season of tightness I can really now see a benefit to having to be more diligent about budgeting because I really have to stop and think now before I spend any money at all in order to stay ahead of debt. I had the option to either buy a week’s worth of hay and wonder if it would ever be delivered, and then have to repeat that process a week at a time, never knowing when the deliveries would be made, or just suck it up and put a chunk of change on credit. I chose credit, but it physically hurt.

Aside from that, Bubba is at a “tremendous” weight, according to the vet. But that of course would be due to the tremendous amount of hay he eats per day and the tremendous amount of time he’s spent stalled because of foot soreness (and just soreness all the way around). But that ends this week. He’s gotten more sour, not less, since all of this obsessing began. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s strayed away from an actual, current pain to a memory and anticipation of a pain that has healed. Either way, after everything we’ve been doing and getting a thumbs up from the farrier, the first attempt at saddling him ended poorly. I then decided to try a few new things and get strict about an exercise regimen.

He has run out of his herbal mix as of this week. While that was phasing out, I phased in the Equerry’s 4-Way Complete Rx supplement. I then added in U-Gard which has had some really great results for people whose horses have actually been diagnosed with ulcers, had them treated, and are now maintaining them. Others with just general digestive trouble have not had so much luck. I gave him an extra scoop for the first 5 days (it is a safe dose, recommended for horses under extra stress) since I will be picking up on his exercise. I also added in Simplifly and got him a fly….sheet. I feel like that’s a misleading term. I got him a fly hazmat suit with neck cover and belly guard, which he tore a bit within the first five minutes of course, plus a new fly mask, plus began applying loads of fly spray regularly, plus the new Simplifly supplement. All of this for some little stinkin’ bug? I don’t know if it’s his feed or because he sweats at the drop of a hat, or if he has sweet blood, but flies love him. There will be an entire swarm of flies in his stall, on him and his manure, so thick that it rivals the biblical plague of Egypt. And yet the horse beside him will have less than normal. However, my other horse may not have so many flies but he does react to bug bites with little welts, so I am feeding him Simplifly as well and also purchased him a fly sheet that hasn’t arrived yet.

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What else…his feet have been doing great, his frog has spread out just beautifully compared to the shriveled dead slug looking thing that it was before. They’ve also gotten increasingly more tolerant of the hard ground and rocks. When we trimmed him, we opted to trim him a bit short to “correct” but it caused foot soreness, which the trimmer advised me would happen. I won’t be making that decision again, I’d rather he was long but sound. But he’s grown out in even just a week and is doing great. Even though he protested at the saddling and riding, he allowed me to lunge him and cooperated rather well. I really forgot the value of groundwork with him. Our relationship has gotten sort of strained with all of this hoof treatment and obsessing with little results, plus he is very jealous and has to stand there and watch me work with just about every other horse on the property and never ride him. I’m not joking, he gets mad. Have you ever gotten the stink eye from a horse? Even through a fly mask, you can just feel it.

Well, I think that’s it for that update. Up next, fly spray options and their effectiveness.