Archive for March, 2012

Gross subject, huh? Well it’s even more gross to have worms coming out of your beloved horse’s behind! When I entered the horse world those few four years ago, I was at the mercy of all the knowledgeable horsemen around me. Everyone said you get your horse on a “worming program”. Hmm… ok, what’s a worming program? You find a good deal from one of the catalog stores, buy up a year’s supply of worming drugs and rotate which ones you give to your horse every couple months. I did as I was told but it didn’t make a lot of sense to me. In the dog world, we check fecals to see if there even are any worms / parasites. I was laughed at for even suggesting this and posed the question “why would you waste good money on that?” Just worm ’em!

It didn’t take me long to break my dependence on those who knew more than me. I’ve always gone my own way in the care of our animals. I always question why. I began having my equine vet check fecal samples from Cass and Becca. This was actually on the verge of becoming the new and preferred way to “worm the horses”. With all the years of rotating wormers the smart little buggers have begun building up a resistance to those drugs. Doesn’t do any good to worm a horse when the drug doesn’t work. When we moved into the Red Barn three years ago the girls were basically parasite-free. I’ve only had to use any wormers a time or two for the year, rather than every two months like the old-timey way. The least amount of drugs going into the girls, especially Cass with her allergy issues, is just better.

Worms / parasites live in the ground, on top of the ground and all around the ground. Our luck ran out a couple months ago. I had noticed Cass looking a bit messy in her privates. This wasn’t normal. She’s such a good girl in allowing me to violate her privacy by cleaning and photographing!

I called up my vet and asked what she thought could be going on. Neither one of us were very suspicious of worms because they’ve been basically negative for 3 years. I check fecal samples every few months. It’d been unusually hot so maybe she wasn’t drinking enough and some of her intestinal lining was sloughing off. That sounded reasonable but Cass is a very good drinker – as long as I keep her water tubs sparkly clean – which I do. The vet had me give her some bran mash just to be on the safe side to help with any tummy issues.

The next day I found this little guy hanging out on my girls bum!

Called up my vet and as we were discussing the situation, Cass politely walked over and relieved herself beside me. Her poop looked like she had a spaghetti dance going on! Worms!!!! Gross!!!!!!! I scooped some up in a plastic baggie so my vet could peruse under the microscope. Neither of us wanted to just blindly give my girl drugs before knowing what we were about to battle. The result came back as Adult Female Pin Worms.

Pin Worms cause intense anal itching. Cass is always itching her backside and I’ve always figured it was a combination of her allergies plus the heaviness of her tail, which is usually the case. Not this time. Sigh. Pin Worms are picked up by horses in contaminated grain, hay, water or grass. Immature worms live in the large intestine for approximately three to four months then, when mature, crawl out the anus and lay their eggs. The eggs fall to the ground, hatch and wait for a new host. Part of my job was to bleach all the wall areas where Cass could have been rubbing. That was an undertaking but I did it. All the stall walls, the poles in the run-in shed, everything outside of all the trees were scrubbed down with bleach. I also spread some Diatomaceous Earth around to kill any eggs hiding in the dirt.

The girls and I decided we’d better pick up any manure piles close to the barn to avoid re-contamination.

Becca sure doesn’t want the itchy butt like her momma!

Knowing exactly what you are battling makes all the difference. Cass has been feeling much better and I feel better knowing I gave her the proper care.

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This was Rosabelle 3 years ago as I met her at our county animal shelter. She had been found wandering stray and appeared to have been out for some time. People living in the area said they didn’t know her.

My friend, Gayle, and I decided we had to help her. I suckered… I mean convinced a client to allow her to rehab in their deer pasture and we set about trying to find her a home. This was in the time when we still had no idea if I’d ever be able to ride Cass. Everyone thought I should keep this mare because she was just so nice. I was tempted, especially after spending so much time with her but she wasn’t meant to be mine.

I really hated the responsibility of deciding where this precious life should go. What if I made the wrong decision and she ended up tossed away again?! She certainly didn’t deserve that. How could I trust people to live up to their word? I’d seen so many people not able to handle the responsibility of a dog or cat, much less a thousand pound horse. Cass and Becca had taught me how much commitment it really takes.

Rosabelle deserved her own little girl. She deserved for me to have faith and trust. She also deserved for me to be a bit tough on her adoptive family. I had them do a trial run for a month of daily care before they ever were allowed to sign any adoption papers. They didn’t disappoint. Here is Rosabelle 3 years ago with her own little girl, Lauren.

It’s funny, I thought I was teaching the family to take care of her but I believe it’s been the other way around. It looks like Rosabelle has been taking wonderful care of them. This little stray horse has become a girl’s best friend. What a wonderful gift! Thank you. Lauren and her Rosabelle today 🙂

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Cass knew I was up to something. It’d been many months since she had to endure the horrors of the hose! She was hoping I was just cleaning the bucket.

When Cass came to me she had lots of fears. The water hose was definitely one of those fears. I got her used to it slowly by just spraying her feet then pull it away, spray a little higher on her feet, then pull away… working my way further up her body. Lots of times we’d have a dance contest as she’d try to jig one way then the other to get away.

Desensitizing her to the water hose didn’t happen overnight. Patience is the key to working with a horse, especially a horse like Cass. As our relationship grew so did her trust in me and knowing I would NOT do anything to hurt her. Hot days she actually appreciates the cool water. I also made sure to have a nozzle with adjusting sprays so I can use a gentle setting.

I once witnessed a cowboy “work a horse” with a hose. He held her tight on the rope and just kept blasting her face! She was doing her best to fight and get away but she couldn’t. After about 20 min. she was exhausted and nearly drowned. I suppose he thought he’d trained her to accept a water hose. In reality he reinforced her fear of people. It was terrible.

I use a gauze sponge to really get her soapy. It’s vital to keep the pollens off so her allergies aren’t aggravated any more than usual. We’ve had a strange winter with strange stuff flying around. I never know what color my car’s gonna be in the mornings!

I’m so proud of my girl. She stood mostly still and even allowed me to hose her privates! This used to be our stopping point. She’d let me get only so far down her back before I’d have to stop. It’s understandable why she wouldn’t want a water hose on her butt. She’s got a clean one now 🙂

One of the aspects of our relationship is I’m Cass’s “safe place”. When she’s unsure of something she looks to me for safety. This is good. That is, until I’m trying to take a picture while bathing her and not get my phone wet!

She settles herself by a slight touch of her nose to me. I love it!

It’s important to scrape all the excess water off after rinsing. I think she likes this process as she does appreciate a good scratching. I use a specially designed  equine “scraper”. Picture a window washing scraper.

After bathing and drying a bit, we use our sprays and ammunition against the aggravating bugs. I just have to say it, she is the sweetest looking, most lovely animal I’ve ever seen! Don’t you agree?

My favorite Irish song 🙂 Happy Spring! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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I spent yesterday digging up more of the dreaded and dangerous fireweed. It’s sure not easy to pick something up without picking something up! In the 3 years the girls have lived in this beautiful place we’ve never had this problem before. New plants and pollens must be taking over because we had no winter. Dang it!

I got this side of the front pasture cleared now. There is still a huge patch on the other side of the barn but I will get to that after Spring Break. Too much client work to do to get worn out from digging in the dirt. The girls don’t mind not being allowed up front as long as they’ve got their hay.

I was singing to my fave group as I was playing in the dirt…

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The Animali Farm has been placing PMU horses in new homes all over the country since 2002. Cass is counted as one of the over 1,500 horses they’ve saved. The International Blessed Broodmare Project has also been instrumental in saving these lives. We especially thank the Australian chapter for these girls, bless all of you. This weekend we welcomed 3 more to our “family”! No, we didn’t adopt 3 more horses but we feel just as excited as if we had. Our friends, Susan and Amy have allowed us to be part of their journey. Amy was a pet sitting client of mine until she moved out of my territory to buy a home in a horsey neighborhood. Can’t say I blame her!

Haven’t heard from her in a few years but she called a few weeks ago all excited about possibly adopting an Animali horse! I hadn’t realized she’d been keeping up with my girls on our blog. She was debating all the pros and cons, deciding if she was ready to be a horse mom again after 20 years, deciding if they could handle it financially, etc. I believe hearing how magical my experience has been helped sway her decision…. I’m happy to welcome Amy’s new girl, Connie!

Connie & last year's baby while in ND. He got adopted into a good home, too!

She left ND on Thursday with 12 other horses. NC was the first drop-off and then Connie, Biscuit & Cody Doll made it to the FL drop-off by noon Saturday. Amy is already in love with her girl. She’s being checked out by the vet today as she sustained a cut above her eye during the trip. Hoping the vet will be able to tell if she’s pregnant or not. The plan is for her to spend a month with our trainer extraordinaire, Gary, then be moved to Amy’s. She’s still getting fences and her shelter built. Welcome to your new life, Connie 🙂

Connie being welcomed by Gary

Her traveling companions, Biscuit & Cody Doll still had a 4 hour drive to make before ending their former life and beginning their new one. Susan has welcomed them into her herd and they couldn’t be in a better place. The truck driver had us all nervous as he kept saying how BIG Biscuit is. She is a Shire, after all. We all prayed they would be calm and not stressed as they would be arriving at Susan’s after dark. They had to have known they’d reached home because they made no fuss, no amount of being nervous or scared. They simply walked off the truck and right into their waiting pen. They’re already allowing Susan to touch and even hose them off!

The beautiful Biscuit while in ND

Cody Doll in ND

Coming from a defunct PMU ranch it’s highly possible all 3 mares are pregnant. When Gary & Amy saw Cody Doll get off the truck they had no doubt she’s pregnant but the other two may be hiding it or they’re not. Either way, they have no more worries. This load of horses to NC & FL is just the start of a few hundred being saved this season from slaughter and going to real homes.  There are no unwanted horses out there. The trick is making them known to the people who want them. Then mountains will be moved.

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Itchy & Scratchy

Cass & I were interviewed by one of our local news stations. They did a story on pets & allergies. My poor girl is terribly allergic to most things in her environment. I do my best to keep her comfortable without the use of dangerous drugs. It’s a daily ritual. And, yes, they got my name wrong.

Pets With Allergies on WKMG Local 6

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