Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Horse's Christmas

Above: Little Cisco last Christmas, who is missed so much ...

After a morning of gifts, laughter, eating and carols, I wandered outside to say Merry Christmas to my horses, and realised I was anthropomorphising! Just another day for my guys, although they reacted to my clip-on red antlers with much snorting and wide-eyed disbelief at what I had obviously grown on my head overnight!!
All jokes aside, gifts for horses might be many (new rugs, tack, etc) - but likely the best gifts for them (from their POV) would be the present of your undivided attention with rubs, treats and a walk to a fave grazing patch!
So that's what my herd got ... some relaxed hanging out time. I put a soothing Christmas CD into their stable CD player (that was for me), and just hung out, with rubs and scratches and sitting doing nothing in the morning sunshine. Everyone was pretty relaxed (it had been a chilly night and the sun felt good) and I was probably the most relaxed I'd been in a while too, after the busy weeks leading up to December 25.
There were a few treats - politely accepted - and it was beautifully fulfilling and good for the soul. And that's a great gift for anyone!
I hope your Christmas was joyful and heartwarming too.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Learning Curve

This morning have been up writing since 5.30am and watching the dark skies give way to morning. Well, not exactly. The skies are still black and 60kmh winds are forecast along with thunderstorms and more heavy rain! While we all wonder what happened to a gentle spring, and alternate between our drizabone and gumboots/ sunglasses and flymasks, it's clear that we need to learn about unfamiliar environmental ailments that can affect our horses!
When I speak with horse people around Australia about their horses, I hear about all the challenges they've been having. Not the least of which is fence-related injuries from horses panicking in a storm and getting tangled in wire. Keeping horses together rather than solo can help prevent this, as in many cases, the herd instinct of the horse living alone will override his good sense. Fencing is one of my favorite topics (more on this another time!)
My own herd's hooves have taken a beating this season. Before coming to the lush Yarra Valley, the boys and I lived for many years up in the high country, with natural playgrounds, hundreds of acres to roam, rocky ground, good drainage and a rare hoof problem!
So, I've learned about laminitis, seedy toe, abscesses, mud fever, thrush and cellulitis, as well as sliding-in-mud-injuries. And now with the tropical weather, we've got to be alert for rain scald, Queensland itch, mosquito bite reactions and more! I've delved into natural supplements, (working from the inside out) and have learned heaps about these often painful and persistent conditions.
And then there's the grass. Mmmm. Brings to mind Katie Watts and her "Are you feeding your horse like a cow?" Highly recommended reading. Watch where your horses graze ... your grass may look pretty to you, but could be toxic to your horse. Case in point: my well-intending neighbour decided to prepare his property for horse agistment - so ploughed it and had the 'grass specialist' sow seed 'suitable' for horses. Guess what ... clover and rye, mostly! There will be a lot of sick horses who are grazed on such pasture for any period of time. My own paddocks now have a little rye and clover popping up (from hay brought in) so they're being moved around daily to minimize exposure as much as possible....
And brumby Spirit has just endured his first abscess. Never thought I would see it. He told me a few mornings ago where it was ready to burst out - he was biting at the skin at the coronet, pinching it with his teeth. Shortly after, he was 90% less lame, what a relief for the tough guy!
Looks like there is a lull in the rain, so I'm out to check everyone over and see what learning experience there is today! LOL!