Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Dude on the Watch List

I noticed that Dude is off. I can't place it. He's been off ever since last week when we got all the snow. I'm worried about him. The other day he was banging at the door to get in but he doesn't normally come into the barn (he's not deemed a hard keeper so he doesn't get mash like the hard keepers). But I've noticed the last week that Dude will hang his head out and around the run-in shed but won't expose the rest of his body.

Usually when I start throwing hay (or appear to throw hay), he rushes out of the run-in shed and makes a bee line right for the hay. Now, I'll throw a couple piles of hay and then he'll mosey his way over to a hay pile. He'll still pin his ears but he doesn't have that same gusto that he used to have. At the beginning of the month, his back end was really giving him fits, which means he's off on the front.

His left hip is the one giving him problems, so he puts all his weight on the right hip/leg. But when the right leg/hip starts to hurt even more, he puts  more weight on the front and in the beginning of November, he was limping on the front as well. Luckily we got him trimmed up, thinking that might be part of the problem (he's also slightly over at the knees as far as I can tell). But with the snow and freezing temperatures, I'm not sure if his hip is giving him more pain or if it's his feet that are bothering him. He doesn't walk like King, who has flat and super tender feet. But Dude does seem like he's overly cautious about where he's putting his feet. 

So I don't know what to do. I don't want to stall him every night because that could cause even more stiffness with him standing around. But he seems to be hiding from the wind, which used to never bother him in the past. I'm guessing the hip now has arthritis so there's a lot of aches and pains. So I don't know if I should blanket him to see if that helps? If there's less wind and a little bit more protection, maybe he'd be less inclined to stay in the run-in shed (and keep everyone else hostage who goes in before him). Or if I need to put him on some type of pain medication? I don't want to run him through a gauntlet of tests but I'm not sure what to do with him to keep him comfortable. It dawned on me that he'll be 18 years old this coming year. In the Sanctuary's world, 18 is still considered young. But with the hip, it could be that for Dude, 18 is considered old and I need to start pampering him a little bit more. 

So now I don't know what to do. I hate being in such a quandary. If you have any advice, I'd love to hear it. Once the temps warm up, and the roads clear off, if Dude doesn't perk up, I'll be heading to the vet to see if there's anything I can do to ease his discomfort. I'm now adding Dude to my watch list. The stresses of a Sanctuary!

Junior and Tiny Dictator

Monday night the temps were supposed to be below zero with wind chills in the 20 below wind chills. I opted to keep the hard keepers in their stalls and feed extra to the others. I didn't put everyone in because there was no wind. I'm sure with a below zero temp that any wind would make it 100 times worse but everyone could get in out of the wind.

However, this morning I woke up to wind howling. Oh sure, the temps were higher but that wind just cut through everything. I can't believe it's only November and we are dealing with January type weather.

Junior seems to be doing great even with the upheaval of a new home, routine, and feed. He practically haltered himself last night. He is getting where he backs away once his nose is in the halter. I haven't figured out what that's about. He was in his stall finishing up his grain, waiting for his alfalfa and poked his head over the door. I gave his head and ear a good itch and then it hit me. Some of Junior's actions reminded me of my very first horse, Tiny Dictator. The thought left me frozen. Oh sure, Junior is much more friendly then Dictator ever was but some of that affection Junior showed me was exactly the same. I'm thinking maybe Junior was an old ranch horse. He had the benefit of having multiple owners who doted on him where Dictator only had three (me being the third) and I was the only one to have doted on him. It was just a weird feeling that came over me last night. It's a bit hard to explain.

Dictator many years ago

Monday, November 17, 2014

Boo To Winter

I'm already tired of winter and seeing white so I thought I would post just a few pictures of color! Yeah to fall, boo to winter.

Boils my Blood

I was pursuing Craigslist, which I should know better. I came across an ad for a senior equine in the same area that the Sanctuary is at. I won't post the entire ad but here's what made my blood boil...

I have an older quarter horse gelding around 25 years old. Looking for something younger and don't need this old boy anymore. 

I  won't bother telling the owner that he's not going to get his asking price, which happens to be over $1200. Don't need?!?! He's served his owner and this is the respect (or lack thereof) that he receives.  Oh sure, a 25 year old horse may still be great for small jobs of toting kids around or a short trail ride. And maybe I'm just touchy today about how people word what they say. I bet this is a darn good horse, I just wish he had a good owner.

Chronicles of Junior

For those interested, I am chronicling Junior's progress in the Senior Equine Care blog that I also maintain. You can read all about Junior at:

Winter is Here

The calendar might say that it's only November, but winter is here. I'm afraid winter is here to stay. We received our first snow fall on Saturday and had over six inches of snow. I wouldn't mind so much but we still had a few things that we needed to get wrapped up. But those things will have to wait. But with six inches of snow and me being only 5ft 3in, tromping through snow hauling two 5-gallon buckets full of water back to the mares and Junior is a little tough. The buckets were dragging in the snow. It wouldn't be bad either if I only had to haul back two buckets. With Junior, I know have to haul back six buckets to keep the 100 gallon tank full. I let it go one night and it took me umpteen buckets to get it back to full.

I've also been stalling Junior at night so that he can eat in peace. That also means that he needs to have his own bucket of water. I think I'm hauling about 50 gallons of water every night between the horses, ponies, and dogs. It's going to be a LONG winter.

I'll tell a story about Junior later. Or go over to the Senior Equine Care blog where I'm chronicling Junior's progress.

I was able to do all of my chores Saturday in the daylight which was lovely but every other day I've been out in the dark doing chores. I'm not ready for winter and winter chores. Six months of this is six months too long! Yesterday the wind picked up and it was bitterly cold. I guess the Farmers Almanac was right. Normal amount of snow but bitterly cold. It's supposed to be below zero degrees Fahrenheit tonight. The rule used to be that it the temps fell below zero that the horses would go in. But everyone can get in out of the wind and hang out under shelter so that rule might have to change. Junior will always go in just so he can eat all night. I threw in his hay, alfalfa, and grain mash last night and this morning I caught him with a mouthful of hay still! It takes him that long to eat.

The weather is supposed to warm up by the end of the week. I hope it actually happens. I did keep track of the fog we had earlier in the year. If we are technically in an El Nino, then the snow we had on Saturday was spot on! For those that might not know me, I'm a little weird when it comes to winter and storms. I follow the old wives tale of 90 days from fog is rain/snow. Starting this past week and going for another three weeks, I have fog marked down in my calendar each week. We'll see if it was just a fluke or if we truly are in an El Nino. It would make tracking predicted snow a little bit easier.

The farmers around us didn't get their corn out either. Our farmer friend has a field just to the west of us. We normally have to put up a snow fence to keep some of the snow from drifting up into our driveway but he still has corn. I doubt he'll be able to get the corn out at this rate. I really didnt' figure we'd get six inches of snow in the middle of November.

Winter is definitely here!

Auction Horse

I didn't write this nor do I know the person. But she is doing her part in trying to save slaughter bound horses that are trapped at feedlots every week.

Week after week I see slaughterbound horses. I go to feedlots and auctions and you would think that maybe I would quit feeling by now. Every week I go to the feedlot in Sunnyside. There are usually a few familiar faces from the week before, but mostly new faces, and new stories, or sometimes no stories at all. Sometimes I wonder how there are just so many horses that week after week I try to save them and say goodbye to the ones that ship to slaughter, yet there are always more.
I sat and just looked at this little foal for a while tonight and wondered what kind of life he would have and hoped that he wouldn't come back and end up in this kind of situation again. He doesn't have a home yet, nor does his mother, but I will post them and I will try. That's all I can do is try, week after week, horse after horse. I sat there on the hay and watched the little foals as they escaped from their pen and played in the alleyway while munching on hay, oblivious that this is not a safe place for horses to be, but rather death row.
Many people have the assumption that just because this particular feedlot lets us list horses to give them a second chance, that horses that are desirable will be able to be rehomed, for example, kids horses. 
Last week all but one of the kids horses recently bought at an auction shipped to slaughter without even a chance to be listed. The truck came early and the load was filled. These were horses that were rehomeable horses but they were bought for the purpose of slaughter, as all are there. When the truck is there, there is no time to look through stories on horses and find out who they are. It really is tragic that these kids horses shipped but no horse is safe when bought by a kill buyer. If you are thinking about buying them at the auction then please do and do not wait for them to end up at a feedlot because they will not be guaranteed safe. He tries his best to keep horses who could go back to be good horses for people and lets us rehome them for what they would bring slaughter price, but he has to feed them too and often times is lucky to even break even on their resale. Kill buyers are horsemen too, no matter what anyone says. I don't think one kill buyer likes shipping a horse that he considers a good horse, but there are just so many and their business is slaughter, not rescue.
I looked through about 130 horses today and only 30 will probably be listed. How do you choose? What do you say to the friendly horse that comes up to you and wants to be your friend but is lame? You give him some love and walk away knowing that he will be on the next slaughter truck. It's the crippled ranch geldings that really get to me. These were good horses who took care of their people and ended up crippled from working so hard. They were not given the chance to retire but instead just sold for their meat to use them one last time. Sometimes I just don't know how I can do it anymore as I look at the pregnant mares I can't touch also in the ship pen. I feel like I fail each and every one of those horses in the ship pens. Surely there has to be someone for them too, but the truth is, there just aren't enough homes, and horses are expensive.
As always, I thank each and everyone of you for sharing these horses and hopefully reaching one person that had no idea of their plight. If even one person chooses to rescue and not breed, or doesn't send their horse to auction and seeks responsible rehoming instead, or chooses to euthanize their old horse, we are successful. I am always amazed at how we pull together as a community to save these horses week after week. For those horses it makes all the difference in the world and you have my deepest thanks. Tomorrow I will spend my day posting new horses. Please have a look and share if you could. It does make a difference. Thank you.

If you are interested in learning more, please go to You will want to do your own research on this group as there is controversy about feedlots and such but I thought I needed to share. At the Sanctuary, we try to provide homes for horses to retire but we can only do so much and we need your help. The horses need your help. For Christmas, maybe you can help sponsor a horse? $100 a month or even just $5 goes a long way in helping a senior horse.