Friday, March 4, 2011

A long week

This past week has been really long.  After spending 5 days in Coeur d'alene, Idaho watching my 8 year old grand daughter compete in a big gymnastics meet, I flew home on Monday to nice weather.  It was fun watching my grand daughter compete, but it was 5 long days driving back and forth from the hotel to the meet in ice and snow with a rental car.  I have a real appreciation for all you bloggers  who live in those conditions.  I don't think I could do that.  I got up at 4 in the morning to drive back to Spokane, Wa. on Monday, caught a 7:45 flight back to Ontario, Ca., then drove home in time to feed the horses Monday evening.  When I turned onto our street, I saw Flash standing in the middle of the pasture.  When he heard my car he looked up, which he sometimes does.  However, this time he looked at me and trotted over to the fence.  I stopped and got out of the car and walked over to the fence.  Flash put his head half way over and let me give him a kiss.  The first time he's ever done that.  I guess he's getting sentimental in his old age, (he turns 15 in two months).

Tuesday it was back to work at 5 in the morning.  Luckily it was the only day I worked this week.  On Wednesday I rode Flash in the morning and he was really good.  It had been a week since I last rode him, but he was bent and forward, at least forward for him, and all our canter transitions were on the correct lead each time.  We worked hard for 45 minutes, and when we finished we were both tired but happy. Annette wasn't feeling well and was coming down with a bad cold or the flu, so she stayed in the house.  I came in around 2 PM to check on her, and she was sound asleep on the couch, curled up in a little ball with blankets around her.  She never does that so I know she was hurting.  I started a fire for her in the fireplace and then went back outside to trim trees.  At 5 I fed all the animals and came back up to the house.  Annette was feeling a little better, but still weak.

On Thursday I thought I would ride Flash again, getting him ready for our dressage lesson on Saturday.  I tacked him up and walked to the arena, but when I got on him I could tell he was off.  I'm not very good at knowing when a horse is off, but this time I could tell that he had trouble putting weight on his right front leg.  We walked for about 10 minutes and he seemed a little better, so I asked him to trot.  He could barely move.  Flash is very stoic, but I could tell he was in pain.

I asked Annette, (my own on-site vet), if she could take a look at him.  She came down from the house and after he took two steps she told me to get off.  She checked his right front leg and the tendons were fine and there was no heat.  I iced both front legs, (which he wasn't sure about), gave him some bute and put him away.  That evening I had a posse meeting, so Annette fed the animals.  She checked Flash and felt a little warmth in his coronary band.  She called me and said she thought he probably had an abscess in his right foot, and that tomorrow morning we should soak it in epson salt and warm water.  I then remembered that about 4 months ago our farrier found the remnants of an abscess in one of Flash's front feet under the shoe.

When I got home from my meeting, Annette and I discussed how Flash may have gotten an abscess.  His turnout area next to his stall is 12' x 24', but near the entrance to his stall, the soil is very muddy when it rains.  I put wood pellets down to absorb the water and urine, but over the years it has turned to muck when it gets wet.  It's so bad that when you step in it, your boot comes off trying to get out.  It's no wonder he hasn't pulled a shoe going in and out of his stall.  When the barn was finished, I didn't spend a lot of time preparing the turnout areas because I didn't know what I was doing.  That was 8 years ago.  I guess now is the time to do it right.  I'm not sure if Flash even has an abscess, but it all makes sense; and what the heck, I have nothing else to do on Friday.

Of course Annette and I go to bed last night and I can't sleep because I start planning on how to fix Flash's turnout.  I keep asking her questions: What should I put down for a base?, What should go on top of the base?, Should I take down the gate panel to get my tractor in?,  How many yards of DG, (decomposed granite), do I need?, and so on.  Annette has all the answers, but doesn't want to share them with me because she wants to go to sleep.  What nerve.  So I stay awake until 2 AM planning tomorrow's job.

Up at 6:30, feed all the critters, and get to work.  First I soak Flash's foot.  He doesn't like it and gives me a hard time.  So Annette comes on scene.  Flash knows not to mess with her.  On with the boot and stand still and eat your hay for 25 minutes.  I keep him company and listen while he vents about Annette putting a sloshy boot on his foot.  Yeah buddy, I know the feeling.  Then it's out to the pasture with his herd, and I take down the gate panel and start digging out all the old "yuck".  There are huge holes next to the entrance of his stall.  Finally after 30 minutes I get down to the hard pack, and the area looks like craters on the moon.
I put all of the old stuff in the compost piles and put in two tractor loads of "blend", (a mixture of pea gravel and sand).  At first the horses didn't notice the gate panel down.  After the second load of blend I start to back up and there is Flash, supervising.  I almost run over him.  Then comes Jackson and the two donkeys.  The next thing  all of them are in a 12 x 12 stall, holding  an ad hoc meeting on whether or not I am a licensed contractor.  The heck with this.  I pull my tractor up to the entrance of the stall and out jumps Jackson like he is shot from a cannon.  He is followed by both donkeys.  Flash sticks his head out to see what the commotion is all about and decides it is time for his hydraulic snack on my tractor lines.  I finally get him out of the way, put the gate panel back up temporarily, hook up my dump trailer and head down the hill to pick up some DG.  On the way out Annette tells me that she has calculated that we need 3 cubic yards of DG.  She knows her math.

Extra DG for tomorrow's project.
Back home at 1:30 and I start to dump the trailer full of DG, but the battery on the dump trailer is dying.  The DG is wet and heavy, but I finally get it dumped after using a battery jumper.  Now I've learned from the morning session what happens when the gate panel is down, so I put all the horses and donkeys away in separate stalls.  Two hours of leveling and compacting, and Flash has a brand new turnout.  Me, I have sore shoulders and a very stiff back.  An all day project, but somebody is happy; I'm just not sure who.
Flash's renovated turnout.

As I stand bent over admiring my work, Annette shows up with two glasses of wine.  What a gal, one for me, and another one for me.  Flash, he must be feeling better.  He's racing Kalvin up and down the fence line between bites of hay.  We'll see how he is tomorrow morning.  He does have a choice; either a tough dressage lesson or rattlesnake avoidance training with the mounted posse.  But that's another story.
Flash eating with Kalvin.
My two glasses of wine.


  1. Beautiful job!! I could use some work like that at my barn. I have the tractor, but not the supplies. And, I'm in New Jersey where we have just gotten rid of over a foot of snow....right now I have enough to do just cleaning things up after several months of snow cover.

    The paddock looks wonderful.

    If Flash is already feeling better, it may well have been an abscess. If it opened up, he would have had some quick relief. Hope he is OK for your planned activities...whatever you choose.

  2. You and Annette sound like such a good team! I'm so impressed with how lovely the run ended up--I'd love to do some ground work on my place like that. Maybe someday :) Beautiful work, though!!

    Hope Flash is feeling much better soon.

  3. did a beautiful job with the turnout. So how is Flash doing? He must have really missed you when you were gone.