Friday, October 01, 2010

we have sunshine! and some hoof notes

Fortunately the rain left us yesterday afternoon, which meant that the horses stayed out with musical hay nets (initially they were intent on moving one another from net to net, then they considered other options and mutually agreed that if they were willing to share, they did not have to move so much!) and then I was able to open up the back field so they could get out and enjoy the still cloudy but no rain left day.

They came in for hoof cleaning (see below for more on this) and then dinner (Salina and Rafer actually came in for a few hours relaxation in the barn aisle when she had lunch) and then went back out for the night.

I think nearly 24 hours out has alleviated the antsy, bored shenanigans we had yesterday morning!

They were happy to come into their stalls for morning hay, and will soon get their breakfast tubs.

I'm glad it's Friday, glad to have sunshine, and happy that there is really nothing major going on this weekend except a few chores we need to get done.

Now for some hoof notes:

With all the summer grass and this year's hay being a little bit higher iron than last year's,  my copper and zinc levels have been off. Add to that the extreme dryness of the past month and we seem to be having some funky hoof stuff going on.

Next spring I am seriously considering making the "paddock paradise" style track using both fields so that the horses are not on grass and are moving quite a bit each day. The alternative is to muzzle all of them, and I'm just dreading the sight of 6 equines wearing muzzles! The track would allow them to chew and "graze" normally and they could do it 24/7.

Anyway, I feel like right now I'm dealing with the consequences of my not having been diligent about the issue of lush pasture that extended through much of this years spring/summer season. My first clue was that late this summer they all got a slightly bleached look to coats, manes, and tails. I tweaked copper and zinc (gave them extra) and very quickly their colors deepened again, so I knew I was on the right track.

I'm currently doing some additional/more intensive hoof cleaning to make sure I'm seeing progress in hooves as well. I decided that with all this hoof care (now needing to be done by me since daughter's finger is still recuperating) I needed to come up with a way to do it that doesn't kill my back.

How hoof care providers do it all day, many days a week is beyond me. I can do a thorough picking of two horses and I'm ready to stop. But we have six! So I set up a 'hoof care kit' which utilizes the big 20-gallon buckets we get from HorseTech. I put all my hoof care tools and medicinals in a smaller bucket which sits down in the larger bucket, which has a lid. Then I can take the big bucket to wherever I want to do the hoof care, usually in the barn aisle for donkeys and Salina, and the paddock for the geldings.

I take the smaller bucket out, put the lid back on the big bucket, and then use the big one as a seat. It's the perfect height for sitting to do hoof care. The geldings can rest a hoof on my knee comfortably and I have my tools within reach. My assistant (daughter, son, or husband) can lead the horses up one by one and I never even have to move.

The thing is, none of our horses are really accustomed to this kind of arrangement. They want to turn around to see what I've got in the bucket, the ones not yet being done want to come investigate, etc. So we decided to treat with alfalfa pellets, one pellet at a time, to make this a bit more of a rewarding, pun intended, experience.

I had to laugh last night. We did the reward mode a few days ago (I'm not doing this elaborate procedure every day, but a few times a week) but yesterday when my husband got Keil and brought him over, Keil was not wanting to come. He wanted to go in his stall and relax. Once he complied though, he lined up perfectly, gave me his hoof, and then craned around as if to say "where's the pellet?"

My husband went to get some, and Keil Bay stood in the paddock with no halter, no lead line, and perfect cooperation as I cleaned, scrubbed, dried, and treated each hoof. Each time I finished a hoof he turned around to sniff my hands, and I told him "the pellets are on the way, Big Bay, just wait." And he did.

It always amazes me how quickly horses can get the drill down, and that they will choose to cooperate when they know what you're doing, and make it pleasant for them.


Máire said...

Nice tips there for hoof care, which I am now facing. I will be so fascinated if you do the paddock paradise thing. I have found it is no big deal, really, setting it up. I do remember with Mali, my first horse, who would balloon on a sniff of grass, I tried a grazing muzzle. The livery yard owner was very interested as were lots of other clients. Poor Mali. She spent all day by the gate of the field looking pathetic and did not try to graze at all.

Grey Horse Matters said...

Glad to hear you finally got some sun, we're supposed to get rid of our rain tonight.

I like your hoof care assembly line. I'll be interested to know how it works out if you put in the paddock paradise. We need to put grazing muzzles on some of the horses here or deal with the consequences. Unfortunately, Grady always helps Sami remove his so they can play.

ponymaid said...

Billie, I have some donkey friends who have the paradise paddock set-up and they quite like it. Frankly, anything is better than those "Man in the Iron Mask" muzzles. Willy, who writes in to my blog, and his group tried the paradise paddock arrangement this summer and they quite enjoyed it. Their human reports a slimming of waistlines. Nacho and his group also report success with this arrangement.

billie said...

Maire, you are a huge inspiration in this venture. It will have to be one section at a time here, but I think it will be fun planning it and seeing it come into being.

billie said...

Arlene, I will post photos as we go. We'll start with one field and work our way along. With a pony and two miniature donkeys who can slip through (or barge through, in the case of the pony) fencing that isn't set up well, it is going to be a challenge!

billie said...

Sheaffer, good to hear. There is a 102-acre "wood" that adjoins our back property line and I was saying to husband yesterday that if we owned that, I could make a track that would take all day to walk! I'd never be able to come inside again, I'd be so busy following the herd.