Thursday, February 26, 2015

Junior is a Keeper and other thoughts

It hasn't even been a week and Junior has already figured out the routine. Now I'm going to throw him for a loop tonight. :-( Temps are supposed to drop to teens below zero and who knows about the wind chill. I've spent half the day trying to figure out which stall Junior would be best in. I think I know, but that also puts him in the last stall into the barn and he'll have to be the first horse out. Not sure that's going to work well tonight and tomorrow morning.

Oh what I would give for a fancy barn where there's an aisle and horses can't reach over and bite another horse in their stall. I wont' complain though. I'm just happy that they can get in out of the wind and cold.

I'm ready for spring. I've been dealing with a nasty head/chest cold for a week now. I am just getting my voice back after losing it on Saturday. I was hoping that we wouldn't see any more of this arctic air. I'm too worn out to deal with subzero temps, wind chills, hungry horses, crabby horses, and being sick all at the same time. I shouldn't complain. We could have feet of snow instead of just an inch that we got yesterday.

I'm still curious to see how March plays out. With all the fog we had back in December, I expect we aren't done with snowfall just yet. I'd be fine with more snow. I would rather make sure that the pastures have  more moisture. I'm afraid our pastures aren't going to hold out this year. Just a feeling after seeing it last year. I need to get out and do some fencing and possibly divide the pasture and rotate instead of let it be a free for all. I also need to spray. I sprayed last year but it didn't do any good. I need to go out with some stronger spray.

Life at the Sanctuary has been pretty quiet lately (knock on wood). The horses are handling the weather ok but I've been sick with one bug or another for the past couple of months so I haven't been able to do much.

I need to get back to fundraising for Mayhem's surgery. I'd like to get it taken care of in May. May is for Mayhem. Get it? (sorry, I'll blame it on the cold). We've had two generous donations but we are still short of our total. It does depend on which vet we talk to for the price but I'd rather have a little extra to cover the post-surgery checkups. I'm sort of tapped out for ideas on fundraising so if you have any great ideas, I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Implemented Plan C

So, lets get caught up on the activities at the Sanctuary. Ivan broke the last straw last week. On Saturday, I pulled Junior out, put his green blanket on, and put him in with the big herd. I gave the herd a stern warning to not harass Junior in any way. It was a bit chilly and I'd thrown out alfalfa so no one really cared. Chaos gave him a look but Junior just hung out. I felt terrible for Junior (and still do). He seems a bit lost in the big herd. Although last night he was standing somewhat close to Chaos so maybe those two can become friends.

I also pulled Ivan out of the big herd and put him in with the mares. Rabbit and Mayhem HATE Ivan. I thought Ivan was just a bully to Bo and Zeke because he is lower in the pecking order. Apparently he's gotten up some gusto and now he thinks he can push the mares around. There were a few kicks and squeals but everyone seems to be settling in. Rabbit and Mayhem continue to keep a wide distance from Ivan, which makes me mad because Ivan is the one who is causing all the problems.

Zeke has become super jealous. Now that I've implemented Plan B where Junior and Bo go into the barn each night so that they can eat in peace, Zeke is super jealous. I'm not talking being pissy with me. I'm talking all out rage towards Junior. I know it's because Zeke is low in the pecking order and Junior is at the bottom. I watched it with Ace and Rain so many years ago. But I hate it. Junior is too old to have to fight for his place within the herd. He doesn't have a buddy because his one and only buddy was Mayhem (although Rabbit would tolerate him).

Having Junior in with the big herd makes my chores easier but it's so hard on Junior. I just don't know what to do.

For my safety, I have to have Ivan out of the big herd and away from Bo. Ivan will bully Bo and Bo will run over me. Bo is the only horse that will do that. Bo should be punished as well but Ivan is the instigator in all of this.

Brego seems a little lost and hangs out with Zeke at night when Junior and Bo are in the barn. Neither Bo or Junior seem to mind this new arrangement. I may consider stalling Zeke at night to see if the jealousy goes away. Last night I watched Zeke pin his ears and rush Junior. Junior is not as swift as Zeke. Junior has a bit of arthritis and other things going on in that back end and Zeke is still able bodied even if he is 22. I was so mad that I finally caught Zeke and made him stand while I finished doing all my chores.

I do not tolerate bullying.

Everyone seems to understand that they are all on bad terms with me. All I have to do is point a finger at them and they stop cold in their tracks. Brego was coming for hay last night when I told him sternly that the hay wasn't for him and then pointed at him. He acted all subtle like he'd meant to come over but he was really going to snitch hay. I can read some of those horses like a book!

So least to say, everyone is still learning. I would have rather waited until spring when there's more room out in the pasture before putting Junior in with the big herd but I can't risk getting run over and hurt.

I'm debating on what to do for tonight. We are supposed to be getting subzero temps again and if I need to run horses in to the  barn, then I have to juggle some horses around to figure out who goes were. Junior is pretty content to be in his stall next to Bo. Bo could care less where Junior is at but at least is starting to tolerate him. But if I bring in other horses, then I have to figure out which stall Junior will get. It'll have to be one where no one attacks him but if that's the case, it'll be one of the last stalls available and I'm not sure I can hold him off from coming into the barn.

Junior has already figured out that when I appear, it's grain time and he's RIGHT at my shoulder. The first night I had to halter him. The second night I had to make sure the rest of the horses wouldn't come close, and last night he didn't even look twice but walked right up to me (after Zeke was out of the way). Junior is pretty quick witted. I really do like him.

So I guess we'll just wait and see how things play out. Nothing is ever easy when changing a horse's routine.

Eight Years Ago

Hard to believe that it's been eight years.

Eight years ago I was sitting in this very exact room when I found out my beloved first horse had died. He'd been my dream horse (although possibly not my heart horse). Not many can say that their first horse was their dream horse but I can.

With is passing, I started changing my thinking. It took me a few more years to finally pinpoint what I wanted to do with the Sanctuary. Not only did his passing teach me so much about senior horses, but also about the care that went in to him while aging taught me much.

I'm afraid I did him a disservice by not being there at the very end and pampering him like I do the current residents at the Sanctuary. I can't make it up to him but I can make sure that the current residents will always have a warm blanket, a belly full of food, and a place to call home.

The ache of his passing is still there even after eight years. I believe it will always be there as a reminder to never forget your past and those that went before you.

Some ask how I can go through such heartache. I tell them I would rather have my heart scattered in a million different places with each of their passing's rather than have a whole heart and never known their love and compassion.

Each loved one that has gone before me has made me who I am and continues to make me who I am. I want to continue to hold their memory in my heart because no one should ever be forgotten.

May we meet again some day.

My wise old man, Tiny Dictator

Friday, February 20, 2015

I Have Had Enough

I've been threatening to move Ivan for almost a week. I've been watching him bully Bo and Zeke for a month now. After Tuesday's biting episode and his subsequent shaming by being kicked out of the barn, I thought he would have learned.


Instead, this morning I was throwing out hay. Of course that darn wagon tipped over so I'd already heaved and hauled and swore at the wagon and hay for tipping over. I got maybe ten feet from where my wagon tipped over and WHAM.

I knew there had been a horse to my right and behind but I didn't know who. Apparently it was Bo. And Ivan was behind him. Ivan threatened/bullied Bo and Bo, who has absolutely no ground manners needed/wanted to get away. His only escape...through me (so he thought). Bo's shoulder and my hip collided. It's a good thing I didn't get shoved any harder, otherwise I would have been face planted on the ground with the wagon toppled over on top of me.

Don't get me wrong. It IS Bo's fault for not respecting my space. But I blame Ivan. If Ivan hadn't been threatening Bo, I wouldn't have gotten pushed/trampled. It's been a few hours (of sitting) and now I'm starting to feel sore.

Tonight, Ivan is going in with the mares. I have had ENOUGH. It may be that I put him in with the ponies or I divide the pony pen and he'll be alone in a pen. I know some won't agree but he is simply bullying. Now Dude, Rain, and Chaos all push. They are more dominate horses but they don't outright bully. They don't go from one pile to another pushing one specific horse just to be mean. They will eat at a pile until they want a different pile but don't zone in on one horse just to torment. Ivan does. And that's unacceptable.

There will be NO bullying at the Sanctuary.

If it hadn't been that I needed to get to the paying job, Ivan would have been in timeout ALL morning. I was seeing red. Junior and Bo will go in the barn tonight for their grain and then tomorrow Junior will join the big herd. Ivan will be demoted to the mares' pen. If I see Brego bullying anyone, he'll be kicked out and sent to the pony pen (or some place else). I may simply put two separate time out pens away from the big herd and stick Ivan and Brego in their own timeout spot.

I have had ENOUGH.

Eatin' Alfalfa

As a kid, I wore braces. Anyone that has worn braces, knows the joys of getting them off. Little did they tell you that you have to wear a permanent retainer on the lower teeth. I've never thought anything about it until a couple nights ago.

The wind was out of the south (which I hate), and I went to throw some alfalfa in to the  mares and Junior. As always I was talking to the horses (or so I want to think but really I was talking to myself).

Can you guess what happened next?

Wind + Open Mouth + Alfalfa = Eating Alfalfa

So of course I got a huge mouthful of alfalfa. I'm not sure which I was more annoyed at, the alfalfa, the wind, or my silliness for having my mouth open. Now you're probably wondering how does alfalfa have anything to do with braces/retainers.

Well, once I spit the alfalfa out, I realized I had an alfalfa leaf stuck in my retainer. It's a first for me. In all these years of feeding horses, I've never gotten hay or alfalfa stuck in that retainer, until now. It took a few minutes to get the alfalfa leaf out but it was rather disturbing.

Such is my luck these days.

Oh and speaking of luck? I think we might have had a rabid rabbit on our place yesterday morning. I'd finished chores and came around the corner only to see a rabbit. I thought he'd run away but instead as I approached, he tipped his head and did tight circles until I'd passed. I made sure to make a wide birth around him in case he was rabid. Something just wasn't right with him. When I was farther away, he hopped around in bigger circles. We HAVE had a rabid skunk on the place but a rabbit? It seemed odd. In high school I had a friend get bitten by a rabbit (and not a domestic rabbit). She had to have rabies shots. I'd like to avoid such a thing. So now I'm on the look out for any odd behaviors in the varmints that are on the place. Least to say, it was an odd morning.

Coveralls and Fashion Statements

So the other morning, when it was below zero with a wind chill of 20-30 below zero, I was out doing chores before the sun came up. Like always. Except one thing. My coveralls.

I wear my coveralls twice a day every day for about six months out of the year (except for the rare occasion in January when there's a thaw). I can only get a year or two out of most coveralls before they are completely tattered and worn out. I was due for a new pair last year but somehow managed to forget.

So this year I've been hobbling along with patches everywhere but they no longer work. Even though my coveralls are short, the bottoms are still in tatters with stuffing coming out. Now there's a hole in the crotch area to let cold air in and reminds me to climb the gate a little higher when I swing over instead of sitting at the top for a minute to catch my breath.

Last year the zipper broke on the leg and I actually threw the coveralls away but dug them out of the trash knowing I'd still need them. So wouldn't you know, the day I need them the most, the zipper breaks...permanently. I remember growing up as a kid, that once a coat's zipper broke, that was the end of the coat. I'm not talking broke as in, the little handle doesn't work. I'm talking the zipper breaks apart any time there's strain on the zipper. It doesn't matter how many times I zip and rezip that darn zipper, it just won't hold.

If any zipper were to break, I wish it would have been the one on the top half not on one of the legs. But the zipper on my right leg broke and it's absolutely unrepairable. Or so I thought.

It's amazing what duct tape will do for you. Oh sure I'm super classy now with duct tape running from ankle to thigh and then half way around my leg. But if it keeps the cold air out and the warm air in, I guess I don't care what type of fashion statement I'm making.

I do think that this pair of coveralls doesn't owe me anything and after this winter, I'll be buying a new pair.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ivan the Terrible

So Tuesday night we were in a Wind Chill Advisory. We were to get 20-30 below zero wind chills, which means everyone goes into the barn. I'd already lost one stall thanks to Dude's hijinks. But I wanted the hard keepers in the barn and the other easy keepers could hang out in the leanto off the barn.

I'd already gotten the mares and Jumior settled for the night, along with the ponies when I started putting horses in stalls. I'd run Jim, Rain, and Bo into the barn and then let Ivan, Brego, and Zeke in. Brego and Ivan have to share a large stall (its' actually two stalls but I have no way to divide it).

If you'd read any of my earlier posts, Ivan has been pushing Bo around terribly lately. While I was putting hay in everyone's stall, I watched Ivan reach over the stall and BITE Bo right in the butt. Had it not been for Bo's blanket, he would have lost some hair. It's bad enough that Ivan tried to bite but he made full contact and came darn near ripping up the only blanket that fits Bo. I was FURIOUS!

I'm already implementing Plan B for Bo and Junior but I've decided that there will now be a Plan C (well a different Plan C than I had originally anticipated). I was so mad I kicked Ivan out of the barn and he'd have to contend with the rest of the easy keepers. Brego was not impressed. Brego and Ivan have been ganging up on Bo and Zeke lately so I was ok with separating the two.

In the morning, Ivan tried to push Bo around and I had to get after him about it. Ivan has been keeping a wide distance from me lately. He knows he's in trouble. But little does he know, I'm not done with him yet. Plan C is going into effect this weekend.

Brego still seems to think that he can push Bo around. I think with Ivan out of the picture, Brego wont' be so gutsy without his backup shadow to protect him from everyone. Those two have been inseparable and their attitudes continue to get more and more pushy, which is not allowed.

Ivan knew to stay away from me and something happened where Brego didn't care so at least Ivan and Brego weren't head to head this morning.

But I am going to implement Plan C no matter what. I am going to throw a blanket on Junior and put him in with the big herd while they are devouring a bale of alfalfa. I'm not sure if it's the right  move or not. But I'm also going to pull Ivan out and put him in with the mares. Lets see how pushy he gets with the red headed mother/daughter duo and Ivan not being buddy buddy with anyone for a little while. It might not last and for sure Ivan will go back into the big herd but I was hoping to introduce Junior into the herd but wasnt' sure when. He still is too thin for my liking and putting him in the barn every night and letting him out into the big herd would actually help cut down on my morning chores.  But I'll have to watch and see if the big herd pushes him around or not. If they do, he'll go back in with the  mares and Ivan will go back in with the big herd. But even a weekend of "timeout" for Ivan might be the trick to keep his bullying at bay.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

EU Ban Update

An update on the EU ban....


An interesting read about hay...a good read especially now when we are in the grips of winter and going through a lot of hay each day.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Plan B (and Plan C)

Some might have seen my post on Facebook about going into Plan B. I wasn't trying to be mysterious about not expounding on it, just too tired. Apparently, Plan B now makes my morning chores go from 10  minutes to 30 minutes and my evening chores, well, I'm not sure how much extra time it adds but it adds enough time to take a chunk out of my evenings.

So, what is Plan B you ask?

Stalling Bo and Junior every night in the barn. I can now regulate how much they eat and what they eat. Whereas before, with them being in other pens, it's hard to know how much they actually eat. And if I want to grain them or give them any extra supplements, I have to pull them out anyway and wait and wait and wait for them to finish eating. So it makes perfect sense (to me) to simply stall them overnight so they can eat in peace and have shelter from any and all SD winter weather.

With stalling, I now give them extra grain and extra alfalfa. They don't seem to be polishing off the hay as quickly. I'm hoping they'll work up to being able to eat more but we'll see. I am trying to put on as much weight as possible since I've done them an injustice by not watching them closer. Being under the weather for a month really takes its toll not on just me but on the horses as well. I'm afraid Junior looks worse than when he first arrived. Hopefully I can rectify that by implementing Plan B.

However, Bo does NOT like Junior. Even though they are stalled separately, they are not best buds and dont' appear to want to be. Yesterday morning I went into the barn to discover Junior in one corner and Bo in another (Junior has access to three stalls and Bo has access to two stalls). So I get the impression that Bo doesn't like Junior.

However, I DO think that Zeke might know Junior. Or at least there's some kindred bond between the two. That same morning, I let Bo out of the barn. Dude had Bo trapped in the leanto and I didn't realize it until I started throwing out hay. So Bo had to hang out in the leanto until Dude moved. I lead Junior back to the small pen with the mares. Zeke was hanging out by the fence line watching Junior. I think he wanted to talk to Junior. I'm not sure if he thought Junior was Bo or if he wanted to touch noses with Junior. Either way it was pretty cute. When Dude moved and Bo was able to stick his head out of the leanto, I was able to get Dude moved and Zeke's attention to tell him that if he was looking for Bo, that Bo was by the barn. Zeke took a beeline to Bo and then proceeded to harass him. I'm not sure but I think Zeke is jealous that he's not in the barn with Bo.

I've gotten a little spoiled with chores only taking 10 minutes in the morning. I'm going to have to start waking up earlier to get everything done and get to the paying job on time.

I'm threatening to haul Ivan and Brego up to Madison for a month. They are really irking me off. If I don't haul them to Madison, I'm going to rearrange horses because I am sick of Ivan being a bully. I've been watching him now over the past few weeks and every time I put a pile of hay down and Bo goes to eat from it, Ivan and Brego walk over and push Bo out of the way. So Bo goes on to another pile and either Ivan or Brego go over and push Bo out of the way. It makes my blood boil to watch it happen. It's gotten to the point where once Bo moves, then Zeke gets pushed out too. I have enough hay piles but I'm tired of watching Ivan be such a bully. Brego is following suite and that just won't do. If we weren't dealing with hauling water all the time, I'd be rearranging pens a little bit more because I'm FURIOUS with Ivan and Brego. But as it is, I may dump those two in with Rabbit and Mayhem and see how they fair with two red headed mares and then put Junior in with the big herd. I'm going to have to come up with something because I'm sick of watching the bullying.

So there's a Plan B for Bo and Junior and I may have to implement Plan C for Ivan and Brego. And to top it off, we are back into full swing winter. Starting tonight we have wind chill advisories so I expect everyone will be going into stalls tonight. Come on spring, I'm ready for you!

The Five Stages of Grief Related to Winter Riding

I was grumbling to myself this morning about winter and how it'll never end. Then I read this hilarious blog post. The author says it so much better than me....

The Five Stages of Grief Related to Winter Riding

Friday, February 13, 2015

Hay Snob

Last night as I was coming home from the paying job, the skies darkened and snow started to fall. I hadn't expected snow. We'd had wind out of the south, which is always a bother when I have horses in the back pen but then it started to snow. Can you tell I'm ready for spring?

I was able to get out to do chores fairly early (at least before the sun set). I decided I better put the horses in the back pen into stalls for the night. I debated but figured with the wind out of the south that I better. The night before I'd debated on putting them in but the wind was out of the north and they are more protected out of the north.

I'm sure glad I went with my gut instinct. Oh sure, it was a big pain in the butt. I had to maneuver hauling water to fill their water buckets while walking over hidden ice patches. Not an easy feat mind you! By the time I got Junior and Mayhem haltered and into their stalls, Rabbit was more than willing to go in. I'd thought maybe I was over reacting but when I put the halter on Rabbit, I noticed she was shivering. She could have been faking me out but I don't think she knows how to fake being cold. I didn't want to throw a blanket on her because today was supposed to be warm. And I figured the wind would cut through any blanket anyway. The minute Rabbit was in her stall, she was hanging over Junior's stall door trying to get to his grain.

And I can't for the life of me figure out if I'm over feeding the horses or if they simply don't like the hay that I'm giving them (can you say hay snob). All the hay comes from the same field, cut and baled with the same equipment. Nothing is different but I expect that the hay in different parts of the field are different. I personally don't care for this "type" of hay. It's thin and course and the baler can't chop the hay to create nice clean "slivers". So when I pull off one sliver, I tend to pull half of the next sliver. It wouldn't be a big deal but  I'm dealing with 3x3 foot bales so its' not as easy as it sounds. And this last bale, the slivers were huge.

With the nice weather in January and then the cold weather in February, I guess maybe I started over feeding the horses as well. I'm not really sure. I guess I felt sorry for them being out in such cold weather but maybe they dont' think it's that cold. Even the ponies have turned up their noses at some of the hay and it's not even the course hay I've been dealing with. So I'm guessing that I'm over feeding but I also figured if I was over feeding, that they would just gorge themselves on it and not stop until every leaf was gone. So I don't know.

What I dont' understand is, it's not bad hay. In fact, I keep trying to talk my hay guy into doing a little bit more paperwork because it would qualify for certified hay. So, I'll call it dairy quality because dairy farms have to have high quality hay to produce decent milk. So the horses are used to high quality hay. When we buy hay that's not directly out of this field, they may gorge themselves (because it's a round bale and there's no stopping them from eating) but they don't always look the same (at least in my mind).

So now I don't know of the horses are simply hay snobs or if there's something wrong with this hay. It's not like I can pick and choose which bales to use. I have to use what's in front because I can't get to the next bale and we don't have any spare bales because the horses are being picky. We have a lot of space limits at the Sanctuary. So I am just hoping that the weather will warm up, I don't have too many more bales of this course hay, and the horses stop being hay snobs and go back to polishing off every leaf of hay.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Cold Front

The last few days have been a blur. I've been meaning to write a post but get lost in the paying job, caring for horses, caring for a toddler type stuff. The other night right as I was finishing chores (late and in the dark), the wind really picked up. The weatherman had warned that the cold front was coming. And it sure did. That evening while we were sitting in the house, Mike mentioned that it sounded like a plane was flying over head because it was that windy.

I'd actually contemplated putting blankets on some of the hard keepers because of the wind but the weatherman said the temps were supposed to get into the 40s and I figured having blankets on would be a hindrance.

Wednesday morning I stepped out to do chores and was lost in my own thoughts. When I walked out of the hay barn, I noticed that we had flurries. I hadn't expected snow! Luckily it only stayed at flurries and nothing  more.

Last night I was again late getting out to do chores. I'd debated long and hard about putting the mares and Junior into stalls to keep them out of the wind. But that was before I'd actually gotten out to do chores. The wind was out of the north and the temps were plummeting into the subzero temps so I was worried that they'd be dealing with subzero wind chills as well. But the wind seemed to hit the trees on the north side of the Sanctuary and create a buffer for all the pens.

And I can't figure out if I'm over feeding everyone or if the horses simply don't like the hay I'm throwing out. I'm using two different bales. Both bales come from the same field although that field I'm discovering has different types of grasses/hays within it. The ponies were the first to stop eating everything I threw out but I assumed it was because I'd been over feeding with this cold front that was supposed to blow through.

But then the mares and Junior also didn't polish off everything. But I sometimes over feed them as well. But this morning, only Bo and Zeke were nibbling at a pile of hay while everyone else stood by the barn (acting like there was wind when there wasn't). I threw out more hay and only a couple of the herd decided to come out of the leanto. I guess they are disgruntled with me at the quality of hay. It's not my favorite type but its' all I have at the moment for them to eat. I knew I had hay snobs but I didn't realize it was that bad. Of course the amount of hay I was throwing out for the past couple of days was a bit more than I normally do so maybe everyone is full. I don't know. It's so hard to figure out what those horses are thinking.

I now have Bo on my watch list. I think his right front leg is bothering him. If he's coming up lame, I'm going to have to find him a soft place to stay for a little while. I'm not sure if he stepped down wrong because some of the other herd was chancing Bo and Zeke last night or if he has an abscess working out or what. But with the ground as hard as it is, he's showing signs of discomfort. It happened a couple of years ago as well so I'm wondering if he simply stepped down wrong but I just don't know. Bo always seems to put me into a conundrum over one thing or another. If it's not his weight, it's his legs, if it's not his legs, its' his weight. I swear I simply have no luck with any bay horse on the place. Call me superstitious but I don't think we should take in any more bays.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tuesday Ramblings

The one beautiful day we had fell on Saturday. Unfortunately, I couldn't take advantage of the nice weather because I went to Empowerment Ventures. It was a good opportunity to learn but it's hard to sit in class when you know the temperatures are in the 40s and you won't get to see those again for another month.

Sunday we had family stuff to get done so no Sanctuary work. I've been really bad about keeping the water tank full for the mares and Junior. I'd wanted to get it filled using the hoses on Saturday or Sunday but ran out of time. I think the weatherman was off on his prediction for the weather on Sunday. The temps might have been nice but it was damp, which seeped right into your bones.

Monday rolled around and we had fog. For those that know me, I follow the old wives tale of 90 days from fog is rain/snow. Well, we are pushing in to May now so I doubt that there will be any blizzards headed our way from all the fog we've had over the past two days.

I'd debated on what to do for the horses last night. The weatherman was calling for rain and freezing rain. Normally I'd be pretty quick to blanket a few of the harder keepers. Except the temps weren't supposed to be that cold and all I have are blankets for polar vortex type weather. I dont' have any light weight blankets. If I hadn't had to go to the paying job, I probably would have put blankets on until the sun came out and temps started to rise. But not having that opportunity, I opted to keep blankets off. Well, now the weatherman is saying we are going to have freezing rain until noon. I wonder if anyone wants to take bets to see if we'll actually SEE the sun today. I'm guessing not.

I'd hoped that the sun would come out so that we could get the drylot scrapped. It's getting a little gross in there and the only nice day we had I was at class. So hopefully the sun will come out and we can get the drylot cleaned up before the temperatures plummet back into the single digits at night.

The ponies seemed a little off this morning. I'm not sure if I felt bad and over fed them or what. I'm going to keep a close eye on them today to make sure that this weather isn't causing problems.

I'd had high hopes to have a contest in February to celebrate Valentine's Day but that doesn't seem to be in the cards. Maybe next month. The rest of this week is looking pretty quiet at the Sanctuary so I doubt there will be much to report other than the day-to-day activities.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Junior Update - Three Months

Wrote a blog post about Junior on the Senior Equine Care blog that I manage (

We've now had Junior just shy of three months. It seems like we've had him for years. We are truly blessed to be able to say that we are the lucky ones to care for him in his final years.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Strides for Success - February Photo Challenge

I wanted to participate in the photo challenge last month but sickness got in the way. But we are all healthy again so my goal is to tackle February's photo challenge from Strides for Success!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Herd Update

We had a quiet night last night to do chores. The days are getting longer which is a blessing when the temperatures are in the single digits. I was able to get out to do chores and get back in before the skies went dark (not before the sun set but at least before the skies turned pitch black). It was rather refreshing to see the herd in the daylight. Life has been so chaotic as of late that I don't get to see them until well after the sun sets, which makes it difficult to do a thorough check on everyone each evening.

It does look like Bo and Junior are losing weight so I'm upping their grain intake. I know some might not agree with that type of method but it's what has worked in the past. Now that we are entering the second half of winter, I need to keep a closer eye on the herds. March is when the weight loss begins on Brego and Jim. I want to head that off now. I can grain and hay those boys the same all winter but it doesn't matter when March rolls around. I'm wondering with a grain supplement if that will help with their weight loss.

Zeke looks fantastic and so does Rabbit. Rain may be losing a little bit of weight but it's hard to tell. Age is starting to show on him, although he's only 17. Mayhem is going through a growth spurt so she's really starting to fill out and look like a well muscled, big boned mare. Ivan looks like he's pregnant. And no it's not a wormy belly. He simply carries his weight in his belly and not on his topline. King is always fat, as is Maverick and Chaos. I'm keeping a closer eye on Dude to make sure he doesn't lose any weight. Luckily there's no ice in the drylot or I'd be worried about Dude. It's usually about this time of year that his hip flares up and he starts to have problems. But I think that's all due to the melting snow and ice.

Last night watching Tommy and Skippy was the highlight of my day. They would rear and bite at each other. Then Skippy would take off and roar through the pen. When I was getting their water, I watched Skippy body slam into Tommy. Those two really do play rough.

I'm hoping the worst of winter is over but there's still a lot of winter left. I need to get into the barn and figure out how to fix a stall door. Dude had gotten in awhile back and managed to mangle the door so I'm down one stall. So lets hope that there aren't any subzero temperatures or blizzards to deal with any time soon.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Winter Returns

I really must pay more attention to the weather. We ARE in the middle of winter, no matter what the Ground Hog says. I'd been enjoying our January thaw for the past few weeks and apparently I got really spoiled. So did the horses!

No blankets, no extra worrying, no snow, no nothing. It was great. In fact, the only snow that was left had been melting.

But then winter reared it's ugly head and now we are dealing with 5-6 inches of new snow, the melting snow turned into a sheet of ice (which I did fall on yesterday during chores), and sub zero temperatures. Yup, I'm ready for spring.

I guess I shouldn't complain. We didn't get that much snow. 5-6 inches is good enough to cover most of the pasture and help keep it covered and provide much needed moisture come this spring. The snow starts falling Saturday late afternoon. When I went out to do chores Saturday morning, the wind was out of the east, which is never good for the horses. So I opted to put blankets on Rabbit, Junior, and Bo (Rain wouldn't let me). By evening chores, I decided I'd fight Rain to make sure he had a blanket on. These swings in temperature are hard on him. Bo doesn't ever get a chance to go into any leantos and Rabbit and Junior's pen takes the brunt of any east wind.

I opted to stall Junior, Rabbit, and Mayhem since the wind was out of the east and have to deal with the accumulating snow. I think they were more than happy to get in out of the wind. I left the big herd out but I debating long and hard on weather I should have put some of the harder keepers in.

By Sunday morning, everyone was anxious for their breakfast. I threw out an extra bale of alfalfa because I felt bad for them having to deal with winter returning after such a nice break. By evening chores, the winds had died down and the snow had stopped falling. The snow drifts were in really weird places this time around. I guess that's what happens when you get wind out of the north or north east.

Junior had me a little panicked last night during chores. I apparently have gotten lazy with him. I've taken to putting a halter on him and simply opening the gate. He loves his grain so much that he goes straight for it. Except last night. Of course I didn't put a lead rope on him either. He started wandering but after I called for him he headed for his stall. But instead of going into his stall, he saw the open door to the hay shed (which is normally closed). I figured I better grab his grain bucket to catch him (since he's hard to catch without grain). But by the time I got to the other side of the building, he'd disappeared. I should have looked closer for his tracks. I knew the barn door was open so figured he might have wandered into the barn. Mike was out pushing snow so I thought maybe he would have stopped and gotten Junior but he kept on plowing (which made me think maybe Junior hadn't gone that way). He wasn't in the barn but the red shed doors were wide open and we have a few bales of alfalfa in there. So I tromped up the hill to see if he was in the red shed. Nope, I took a quick peek into the pasture thinking he may have wandered in just to investigate but didn't see any tracks. I should have paid more attention. I figured I'd better go back to his stall on the off chance he was there. Sure enough, there were the tracks and there was Junior. Enjoying his grain mash. He simply wanted to do a quick investigation of the place and get down to business with his grain. That'll teach me to leave the shed door open!

Mayhem seems to be going through a major growth spurt. I've always viewed her as small and petite. But in the last few months I've noticed she's really filled out and looks much thicker. I'm over feeding the back pen with Rabbit, Mayhem, and Junior.  Junior is such a hard keeper I want to make sure that he's getting food without getting pushed out. But he's so slow that I'm not sure the extra hay isn't getting snatched up by Rabbit and Mayhem. Mayhem seems to be full of herself these days and I'm wondering if she's finally filling out and growing up. I'm guessing that anyone that sees here wouldn't realize that she has a heart murmur. I'm starting to think that her heart won't affect her at all. She's full of vim and vinegar these days. I think some of that has to do with Junior.

I am so proud of Junior. He's such a passive horse but last night Mayhem came up on him and he turned around and let both hind feet fly at Mayhem. He even made contact. Now I don't normally agree with that type of rough housing, but Junior is finally confident enough to put Mayhem in her place. That makes me happy. If he can put up with Mayhem's antics and Rabbit's crankiness, maybe he can handle the herd of geldings this summer. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

But for now, we're going to hunker down and try to stay warm against the sub zero temperatures and winter returning.