Wednesday, October 28, 2009
He set up a dog crate for her, complete with fluffy pillows and warm blankets, propping her up underneath a heat lamp with a bowl of milk in easy reach. (Just for your information, he doesn't treat me like this when I'm not feeling well... Although if he set up a dog crate for me, he and I would have words.) Victoria has since made wonderful progress, and as seen in the post below, is now back outside running around with her mom and siblings.
During her stay with us, a pretty nasty cold snap hit. It was too cold for one of our chickens (who happened to only be about 9 weeks old at the time,) to be in the barn. Granted, we had a heat lamp set up for her, but even that wasn't keeping her warm enough. So what options were I left with? She came inside too, walked into the crate and made herself comfortable in the warmest spot she could find.
I now present to you, one of the cutest pictures I have ever taken...
Let's hear your caption suggestions!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Here are some pictures of the pig crew!
Rosalie, Emmett and Victoria... Notice how small Victoria is compared to her brother and sister. And yes, they are named after Twilight characters. And no, it was not my idea. Remember...the vast majority of my students are pre-teens and teens!
Sophie keeping a close watch of her babies...
Rosalie's face... How adorable is she?! She is a great piglet too - very personable, easy going and cute as a button. She is quite content to fall asleep in your arms.
We are looking for someone to adopt Victoria to keep as a pet and/or for breeding when the time comes. We just do not want her to end up in someone's freezer! If you know of anyone, please let us know!
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Her daily routine consists of getting her breakfast around 6am, being groomed once she is done eating, and then she heads out to the paddock behind the barn. On the cooler days we blanket her, but lately the weather has been favorable. She stays in her paddock until dinnertime, which is normally around 6 or 7pm. Her stall is prepared for her before she arrives, cleaned out with extra shavings, two fresh buckets of water, a full hay rack and her bucket of grain and supplements.
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As many of our readers know, things around the farm have been quite busy lately! Between working at the shop, lessons, the new Thoroughbred that arrived, and managing all the farm animals, I barely have time to think!
So I decided to do one of my favorite things that I have just been too busy to fit in - I went on a trail ride! A group of students wanted to go as well, and it was a good change of pace for the school horses, so it was a mutually beneficial decision.
Everyone started choosing horses and before I knew it, all of our best trail horses had been taken. This left me with few options: a Morgan who likes to go down the trails sideways at a trot, a Half-Arab who firmly believes that monsters live in trees, or a Saddlebred who chooses to listen to the voices in his head over that of his rider. No thank you.
I thought about it for a few minutes, then I headed out back, put a halter on Faith and brought her into the barn. It wasn't until she was fully tacked up that my students actually believed I was going to take her. Her legs were wrapped, her bridle was adjusted and we were ready to head out.
Due to her leg and muscle problems, we have been careful to only put small riders on her. For that reason, I had never ridden her. She has been doing well lately, has built up a substantial amount of muscle, so I figured it was about time. I grabbed the mounting block, stretched up to the stirrup iron, and up I went!
We headed down the driveway, took a right on the street and rode towards the trailhead. Faith was a little hesitant to lead, so we changed our order and Dreamer and Nicole went in front of us. Faith eagerly followed and seemed a little more comfortable in that order.
The fall foliage was beautiful - the leaves were the brightest yellow I have ever seen before! Faith appeared quite content with herself, seemingly enjoying her time. We changed order again, Faith resuming the lead. She calmly looked at everything in sight as she walked along, never spooking or misbehaving. I was quite surprised, actually - I figured that she would at least have been a little goofy! This lovely old girl never ceases to amaze me...
Since many of you are far away and will never get the opportunity to meet or ride her, here's a little taste of what it's like to ride Faith!
As we were heading down the road to the trailhead:
In the woods underneath the bright yellow maple trees!
I hope everyone has a great weekend!
Friday, October 23, 2009
I spent some time working on the ground with the big guy today. First, I turned him loose in the arena to stretch out his legs and get some energy out. He enjoyed himself, bolting away a few times and letting out a few little bucks, but was more interested in sniffing the hay and shavings we have stored in the corners of the arena.
Then, Tiny and I both took the first steps of the beginning of his education. We worked on personal space, staying at my shoulder, and walking on HIS feet, not mine. He is a quick learner and caught on fairly well. He is still a bit pushy on the ground, but not nearly as bad as I thought he was going to be.
After his lesson, we headed back into the barn. A few of my students who had been tagging along watching our session went for the customary "after work" horse cookie. They offered it to him, placing it their open hand. He sniffed it, pushed it with his lip, licked it and knocked it to the floor. They tried again and he wasn't the least bit interested in it. He didn't know what it was.
I told my students that "Gus" (which is what everyone here has been calling him,) probably had never received horse cookies before, and it was obvious that he didn't know what to do with it. They all looked mortified...
"He's never had cookies before?!" It was at that point which I realized just how much we spoil our horses here, not to mention the incredibly skewed perspective my students have of how they believe "all" horses are treated...
Here are some photos of the big guy from today! Comments on his conformation would be greatly appreciated!
Trotting while sniffing the ground... I see the movement of a dressage horse here!
And stretching his legs out!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
He is easy to handle, but a little fidgety. I plan on bringing him into the arena tomorrow and working on some groundwork with him. We need to work on some "personal space" issues he has, as well as giving to pressure and not pulling on the lead. He's too big to be stepping on me and pushing me out of the way with his shoulder. Just because I walk on the bottoms of my feet, doesn't mean he is allowed to walk on the tops!
"Tiny" came with the barn name of "Gus", and we are debating whether we're going to keep it or not. His registered name is "Junaguska" and you can see his pedigree by clicking here: http://www.pedigreequery.com/junaguska. He made 66 starts, had 5 wins and earned $83,077 on the track.
I did get a chance to measure him, and the best I could see is that he is 17 hands and 1/2 inch. Still a big boy, nonetheless! I will keep everyone updated with his progress.
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The last big training project I had was with a Friesian/Morgan cross gelding named "Oliver". "Oliver" was a 16 hand, 4-year-old when he came to live with us. He was sweet and sensible, but had very little training. My goal was to turn him into a fancy hunter pleasure horse, and as you can see below, the plan was quite successful.
Here is Oliver just beginning his training under saddle:
And here he is just a few short months later!
We found Oliver an amazing home with a lady in Massachusetts. He is now a competitor in the dressage arena - a perfect job for this pretty boy!
A special thanks to my student Lianna for working with him and modeling for his photos! She will also be helping us with the new guy! Hopefully "Tiny" turns out just as nicely as Oliver did!
Let the fun begin...
I have Dr. George coming out to do a full evaluation of him next Tuesday. Besides the standard tests, I am going to have him shoot a few radiographs of his left hock. (The one that was pinfired.)
We are taking him in as a fundraiser for our farm's rescues. This poses a difficult task for me - my students have a tenacity to fall in love with the horses here. And then when the time comes to see them go to their new homes, the tears begin to flow. It doesn't matter how often I tell them, "Don't fall in love, he or she is only here to be rehabbed." Tissues are always needed. Linus was a prime example.
To those of you who are familiar with off-track Thoroughbreds, I have a few questions... Do you suggest that we radiograph any other joints, besides the pinfired one and any other that may raise questions during his exam? Do any other joints pose more of a problem than others? And is there anything else in particular that Dr. George and I should focus on?
I look forward to working with him, but as many of you know, my time is fairly limited. Is there anyone in my area that would be interested in coming to work with him a few days per week? If so, send me an email at GreenwoodStables@aol.com. Any help we can get for him would be greatly appreciated!
Also, he needs a name! I was thinking "Timothy" so we can call him "Tiny Tim"... Any ideas?!
Thanks for all of the suggestions and advice so far!
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009
While I was informing the horse's owner that I would call a few friends and see if they were interested, he gave me an interesting idea. He knows about the rescues we have done in the past and suggested that I take this horse to my farm, retrain him, and sell him to help fund our rescues.
Here is the background on the horse in question...
--> He is a 7-year-old Thoroughbred gelding.
--> He was a racehorse and earned over $84,000 on the track.
--> His owner says that he is 17.2 hands tall. I haven't measured him yet, but he is an honest 17, there is no doubt in my mind. If he really is as tall as his owner says, that means that the highest point of his back just about his shoulder is 5'10" - he's a giant! For those of you who think Faith is big, this guy is 3 inches taller!
--> He has been officially retired from racing since... Thursday. Ugh...
--> He supposedly raced sound and never had any lameness problems. However, he did have a minor injury when he was younger and his left rear hock has been pinfired. That is not a big concern of mine.
--> He has decent conformation for a Thoroughbred. He has a nice shoulder and hip to him, as well as clean legs. I think he would make a nice hunter/jumper or field hunter. (I will post better body pictures of him tomorrow and everyone can help me analyze him conformationally!)
Here is my background...
--> I have worked with four or five off-track Thoroughbreds before, the last being at least 5 years ago.
--> My barn is currently full and I am in the process of trying to sell one of my show horses. (Anyone interested in a beautiful buckskin Morgan gelding!?)
--> I am afraid of heights. :-)
I really don't know what to do now. So I'm asking our loyal readers, what do you think I should do?!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
This video clip is me aboard "SB Cookies N Cream", my Half-Arabian/National Show Horse mare. We were competing in a Ladies Pleasure class at the Deerfield Fair. One of our "show dads" taped my class and put it online, and now I can share it with all of you!
PS - this little mare is an absolute blast to ride!
Monday, October 19, 2009
One day a man passed by a farm and saw a beautiful horse. Hoping to buy the animal, he said to the farmer: "I like your horse and I'm in the market for one, so I'll give you $500 for him."
"He doesn't look so good, and he's not for sale," the farmer said.
The man insisted, "I think he looks just fine and I'll up the price to $1,000."
"He doesn't look so good," the farmer said, "but if you want him that much, he's yours."
The next day the man came back raging mad. He went up to the farmer and screamed, "You sold me a blind horse. You cheated me!"
The farmer calmly replied, "I told you he didn't LOOK so good, didn't I?"
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I am pleased to announce our newest addition to our rescue crew. Pictured below is "Pet" and she will be arriving at our farm sometime in the next few weeks. She is not a "rescue" because she was abused or neglected. Her situation is a different type...
To most people, Pet looks like any other horse. She appears healthy, is at a good weight, and has a nice relaxed expression on her face. She looks content with life, as any horse should. She does struggle with one aspect of her life though.
She is blind.
Her disability does not stop her though. She can still be ridden and even shown, just like any other horse. All she requires is a patient human to guide her through the obstacles that may be in her way.
Pet has been owned by the same family for the past seven years. Her current owners are going through a divorce and needed to sell her. Unfortunately, no one has an interest in taking on a blind horse, so they made a difficult decision: have her euthanized.
Pet was scheduled for euthanasia on September 30th. The owners' daughter contacted me two days prior and I agreed to take her in. Her life was spared and she could continue to be a productive member of equine society.
Plans and changes have been made for her at our farm. We have a small paddock with a run-in shed ready for her arrival. She will more than likely be partnered up with Faith or Amy, our 14-year-old Paint mare.
I have never worked with a completely blind horse before, so this will definitely be a learning experience. We anxiously await her arrival and will post more information as we get closer!
If anyone can offer advice on working with a blind horse, (tips on handling, what we can do to help her adjust, etc,) would be greatly appreciated!
Saturday, October 17, 2009
It was SNOW. On October 16th. What the hell?!
Snow is a four-letter word.
I unhappily got up, did chores around here and headed to the shop to work. The flurries ended a few hours later, but the ground was too warm for anything to stick. Thank God.
The good news... is that's all the bad news I have for today :-)
Faith is doing much better. We have gone back to crushing and disolving her meds, then squirting them into the back of her mouth. It's quicker, easier and she is now not quite as grouchy about it. She seems comfortable and is moving fine.
Rosie is also doing great. Two days of a compression wrap and anti-inflamatories and she is moving comfortably again. I still have no sympathy for her, though... :-)
And then there's our little Miss Victoria. She has been living in a dog crate in our living room for the past few days, being bottlefed milk every few hours. I have to say, I honestly believe this piglet is a superhero. She came back from being very sick twice; we almost lost her both times. It was heartbreaking to see - she was so weak she couldn't stand and would cry everytime you tried to move her. But with daily Vitamin B12, heat and a lot of love, she has since regained her strength. Yesterday, she was feeling so good, she was bouncing off of the crate walls for fun. I opened the door, let her out and she meandered all around our house, sniffing and oinking at everything in sight.
Shortly after, she began playing with one of our dog's toys. It's a stuffed cow, with hideously huge eyes, and it "moo's" when you squeeze it. She carried that around the house proudly, much to my dog's dismay. Then, as if she owned the place, she carried her new cow friend over the the dog's bed, climed up, and took a nap next to Molly...
The crew seems to be doing better. I will keep everyone informed as to how things are progressing with them!
There is more to come shortly... I will respond to the hundreds of comments and emails I received in a future post; am working on redesigning the header on the blog with a better picture of Faith; and will have another funny "caption this" photo for everyone.
Have a great day!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Learning about what happened with Charlotte was just heartbreaking. And then to read the summary of everything else that happened on top of that, well, I remember seeing a bumper sticker once that read:
Gravity is a Myth: The Earth Just Sucks
Where do I start?
This past weekend Dan and I were reconfiguring (again) our shedrow barn for our farm animal brigade. Sophie and her piglets were ready to be moved out of the barn into the barn out back, and we needed to change things around to accommodate them. And the chickens. (Did I forget to mention the chickens?!)
For my birthday, one of my students thought it would be great to add onto our farm animal crew. (Because I obviously do not have enough to do around here - hahaha) We now have four chickens at our farm. Their names are Parmesan, Marsala, Cacciatore and Alfreda... I have never had chickens before, but they are quite entertaining. And the eggs are delicious! Moving on...
As I was moving around and cutting some new stall mats, I heard a squeal and a few thuds. I ran out of the shedrow to see Faith cornered in the big paddock by Rosie, our 14.1 hand Paint mare. Rosie cornered her where their water tank is and when Faith didn't move quick enough, Rosie kicked. Hard. And repeatedly. Faith finally kicked back, which only infuriated the little mare even more. Running towards them, arms flailing and screaming, Dan and I broke up the battle. Faith took off towards the run-in and we followed.
The sight was ghastly. My poor baby had blood pouring out of her. I quickly called Dr. George and explained the situation. Thankfully he was only 15 minutes away, and knowing that alone was a huge relief. We moved Faith into the barn, a trail of blood following us the whole way. It was so bad that we put shavings down in the aisle to absorb it. Dr. George showed up just a short time later and gave her intravenous anti-inflammatories and pain relievers.
He examined her and found that she had a torn vulva. (Let's hear that collective "ouch..." from our readers.) Rosie's hoof apparently nicked a pretty impressive blood vessel, which was the source of the massive bleeding. Thankfully, it was not interal. However, it was in such a location that stitches were impossible. Over the course of the next few minutes, the blood flow had begun to diminish and her body was beginning clot the wound.
While she stood on the crossties, we clipped and then began tending to her other wounds. Her right hindquarters were riddled with perfect hoof-shaped marks. I believe that seven was the final count. Dr. George and I began clipping around the marks and dressing them. Again, thankfully there was no need for stitches.
The plan was SMZs for the next seven days and bute for the next five. The first day was fine, the second day Faith decided that she wasn't going to eat her grain if there was medicine in it, so we were back to The Oral Medications Argument. (Please refer to our February 5th article.) Let's just say that you never really forget what a bute/SMZ combination tastes like.
Faith has always been a little fussy about eating her grain. Some mornings she dives into her bucket, other days she takes her time. On occasion, a few small handfuls will be left over in the morning, but she eagerly eats it when she is brought in for dinner. Since her injury on Saturday, she has been leaving a good amount in her bucket. I'm not sure if it is because she is not feeling well or perhaps another hormonal issue like we had in the spring. On the positive side, her hay and water intake has been good.
Fast forward to this morning... One of Sophie's piglets isn't doing too well and is in my house, on my living room floor, wrapped up in a blanket and under a heat lamp. My dogs are totally confused, to say the least. The piglet's name is "Victoria" and she is the runt. She is our little redhead with black polka-dots all over her. I'm not sure why she's weak, but we're giving her vitamin B12, bottle feeding her and keeping her under a heat lamp.
And then this evening... Rosie came into the barn for dinner tonight on three hooves and one toe. Apparently one of Faith's kicks made contact and the lower portion of Rosie's right rear leg is swollen and sore. She is barely touching the toe of her hoof to the ground as she walks. We cold-hosed it, gave her banamine and wrapped it in a compression wrap. The vet says to keep an eye on it and call him in the morning if it looks worse.
So the next time you hear someone talk about the effects of gravity, tell them my story... :)
Friday, October 9, 2009
We picked up "Linus" from a bad situation on June 2nd. It was obvious by both his physical appearance and depressed behavior that he hadn't been cared for in quite some time. He was over 250 pounds underweight, infested with lice, and had open wounds all over his body. His legs and hips were riddled with scars. His previous owner had tranquilized him so frequently that his penis was paralyzed, infected and abscessed.
This was Linus on Day 1:
Linus arrived to us with an unknown history and a faded lip tattoo. Through research, we learned that he was a 17-year-old retired racehorse. His small career earnings of $6,785 put him on a truck to the auction. He was then bounced from farm to farm, holding jobs as a trail mount and eventually a beginner lesson horse.
When he first arrived, our vet evaluated Linus thoroughly and gave us mostly positive news: he was sound and should easily recover from his trauma. Most of Linus's issues were easily treatable. The bad news was that he needed penile amputation surgery. Without the surgery, the massive infections would spread, and then euthanasia would be the only alternative.
We weighed our options about his future. I couldn't justify putting this horse to sleep. He was serviceably sound and had a wonderful disposition. But at the same time, the $2,500 cost of surgery was out of our budget. We had already put everything we had into rehabbing Faith, including our vacation fund that we had been saving for over 3 years. We couldn't afford his surgery and put the word out for sponsors.
Linus already had quite a few online friends and the donations slowly came in. However, not everyone agreed with our plan for Linus. One woman from a local online bulletin board said that we were wasting our time and money on him. "A 17-year-old horse just isn't worth it," I was told. "He shouldn't be saved." I countered her comment by stating that this horse was completely sound and usable, and with a little luck, would quickly return to being a productive member of the equine community. She stated that she would believe it when she saw it.
That one comment gave me the extra push I needed. From that point forward, Linus and I were out to prove them wrong.
Four months and five days after to arriving to our farm, this is what Linus looks like...
He is up to weight, the lice are gone, the wounds are healed. The scars he had when he arrived will never fade away, but at least now they are somewhat covered by a shiny, healthy coat. He doesn't resemble the horse from those first pictures, and for that, I couldn't be happier!
Aboard Linus is one of my students' mothers. Liz has been a huge part of Linus's recovery. She has spent countless hours grooming him, bonding with him and feeding him lots of carrots and ginger snap cookies.
I have wonderful news to share with everyone - Linus has been adopted by a wonderful young lady named Sam! Sam adopted him to be used as a light trail horse and companion for her other gelding. She and her mom will be trail riding them a few days a week together. He is only about 45 minutes from my farm, and I plan on visiting frequently with Dan and my students!
Thanks Linus, for overcoming your past and proving the naysayers wrong. You were always worth it in my eyes...
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And even more wonderful news... Since Linus has been placed we now have an extra stall available. I am finalizing plans to take in a blind Appaloosa mare next week. More details and pictures to come!
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Eight months ago, we took Faith into our home. A broken down mare that no one loved and we saved her. It wasn't just me. All of us did. I cannot take credit for her recovery since I could never have done this alone. Our wonderful veterinary team, our corrective farrier, our friends. Those that gave financial support, those that gave moral support. It's all because of you that Faith has accomplished what we all thought was once impossible. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Faith has proven to the world that with love, care and strength, you can accomplish the impossible. I have never met an animal that has made people laugh, made them cry, and inspired so many. Onto the show...
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I couldn't count the number of Faith's fans that stopped by to meet her this weekend. Rita, Anna, Joyce, Sam, Jackie, Maureen... the list goes on! Faith's youngest fan was four and had heard about her from her preschool teacher. The oldest was in a wheelchair and saw her story on the news. I cannot begin to express what it felt like to meet so many that cared about her.
Faith warming up at the trot. Great braiding Courtney, and great heels, Lucy!
Leading Faith into the show arena chute! Lucy looks like she is concentrating pretty hard right now...
Walking first direction... Trotting second direction... Since this is a youth class and safety is our number one priority, just after all of the horses are lined up, each exhibitor has an attendant called into the arena. Here the three of us are, heading to the rail to retire...
Day Two: The Championship Class!
Trotting first direction...
Heading out of the show arena for the last time...
Lucy giving Faith a well-deserved pat on the neck...
Back at the barn for a picture with some of our students!
Just after the last photo was taken, the crowd that had gathered around us began to clap. Faith's ears perked up and she looked towards them, scanning her audience. Then she dropped her head down into my chest and took a deep breath...
This horse means the world to me, and from her I have learned so much. Thank you, Faith. I hope you know how much I love you.